Antique medical device used for electrotherapy / MON 3-19-18 / Taiwanese computer brand / DC Comics superhero with sidekick Speedy / Bureaucratic rigmarole / Cowpoke's sweetie

Monday, March 19, 2018

Constructor: Michael Wiesenberg and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Medium Monday


THEME: RAINBOW (48A: What the starts of the answers to the seven starred clues constitute) — all the colors...

Theme answers:
  • ORANGE PEEL (17A: *Garnish for a cocktail)
  • INDIGO GIRLS (26A: *"Closer to Fine" folk-rock group)
  • YELLOW LIGHT (44A: *Caution to slow down)
  • GREEN ARROW (60A: *DC Comics superhero with the sidekick Speedy)
  • BLUE BIRDS (10D: *Symbols of happiness)
  • RED TAPE (23A: *Bureaucratic rigmarole)
  • VIOLET RAY (35D: *Antique medical device used for electrotherapy)
Word of the Day: FWIW (56A: Letters suggesting "I'll just go ahead and throw this out") —
acronym for "for what it's worth". Used mainly in computer-based conversation (instant messaging, email, text messaging, etc.) (online slang dictionary)
• • •

Well yes those are the colors of a RAINBOW ... OK. Pretty literal, pretty basic, pretty bland. Doesn't seem NYT-worthy, conceptually. No wordplay or cleverness here at all. The colors are actually the colors. The peels are orange, the birds are blue. The girls aren't actually indigo, though. That must be metaphorical. Or maybe related to denim. VIOLET RAY is almost painfully literal, in that its first word is the color and the second word relates to light. YELLOW LIGHT not doing much better. At least a YELLOW LIGHT is a thing people know. [Antique medical device used for electrotherapy]?? That is a long, grim, bygone way to go to get VIOLET RAY. The fill here is acceptable but no better. Teeters at times, but mostly stays upright. Pretty BLAND overall. Not sure why this gets made, published. Hoping for slightly more adventurous and ambitious stuff tomorrow.


INDIGO GIRLS is a smug little insidery wink (NYT loves those)—the INDIGO GIRLS were featured in the documentary "Wordplay" (2005) as one of a handful of celebrity solvers (including pitcher Mike Mussina, president Bill Clinton, and comedian Jon Stewart). They were charming, and I have always enjoyed their music. Saw them live twice when I was in college—once in Edinburgh, opening for 10,000 Maniacs; then again, headlining at the Pantages in L.A. I went to Pomona College with Emily Saliers' sister, Carrie. Annnnnnnyway, nice to see the duo's name today.


I had a lot of little trouble in this grid. Mostly it was a breeze, but I had weird blanking moments. When BAR didn't work at 25A: Place for drinks, my brain just refused to see PUB, even with the -UB in there. Was just looking at an old collection of "Li'l Abner" in the bookstore yesterday, thinking "Who the hell reads this?" And here we are with PAPPY. Abnerspeak (or "Dogpatch") is an old crossword standby. Like, really old. Never bothered to learn much about it. It mostly drifted into the mists of yore. Just not today. Balked at VIOLET RAY because wth is that? Had LOAN for LEND, as I always always do (55D: Supply temporarily). Couldn't make sense of plural GRIEFS for a while (45D: Intense sorrows). Could think only of the grieving sound of GROANS. Really really couldn't make sense of FWIW, which was clued as if it was referring to trash (56A: Letters suggesting "I'll just go ahead and throw this out"). When Green Lantern didn't fit, and Green Hornet didn't fit, I drew a blank at that last themer. Still an easy puzzle. A normal, easy, Monday puzzle. Goodbye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

108 comments:

Roy G. Biv 12:05 AM  

I really liked this puzzle. 2 thumbs up!!

Jason Claunch 12:24 AM  

Fine enough Monday imo, but one nitpick — A rep is not the same thing as a set. A set is composed of reps. Bad clue.

Ellen S 12:44 AM  

@Jason, so an “Exerciser’s sets” are made up of REPS. So it’s a perfectly okay clue and answer. IMHO, as we used to say. Just FWIW.

Robin 12:59 AM  

My time on this normally be considered slow, but jeez, counting how many drinks I had before I started, it has not be easy. No complaints because frankly I have minimal expectations for a Monday.

Robin 1:02 AM  

Points to anyone who fire's what I just posted, seeing as the grammar is... fractured.

Charles Flaster 1:06 AM  

Agreement with Rex.
Easier puzzles, IMHO are just as difficult to create as their trickier brethren.
Very little CROSSWORDease, unusual for a Monday.
Thanks MW and ACM

Anonymous 1:24 AM  

The PEELs aren’t ORANGE, they’re from an ORANGE. An orange that may have been green, yellow, etc.

Rev. Gary Johnson, Man of God 1:25 AM  

I know a great joke where the punch line is "The Indigo Girls"

Unfortunately, I can't tell it here.

God bless.

Carola 1:37 AM  

I thought a RAINBOW was a cheery way to start off the week, and given that curved lines can't really be done in the grid, I liked the Mondrian-like arrangement of the colors. Less cheery: the pairing of WEEP and GRIEFS.

VIOLET RAY was unknown to me. In trying to learn more about it, i discovered that a prototype machine was presented by Nikola Tesla at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 (Wikipedia), that the therapeutic value is, at best, contested, and that you can buy one, labeled as a "quack device," on ebay. ZAPPED makes a good complement.

@Lewis, I thought of you with all the double letters; I count 20 pair, plus the III triplet - a lot, right?

Tom 1:40 AM  

Abe would WEEP over what the GOP has BORNE. Uh oh, watch out, here come the anonymous trolls!

John in SoCal 1:51 AM  

Rex, I don't know if it's just your schtick or not, but sometimes you say things in your blog posts that I find stupefying. Are you sure you're a professor who teaches comics? And you just blew off "Lil' Abner" and said you "Never bothered to learn much about it"? "Lil' Abner" was one of the most influential comics ever produced, on so many different levels. It's a major element of American media history of any kind, and its influence is still felt in popular culture whether people realize it or not. You might want to learn a little bit about it (and "Pogo" too if you're unfamiliar with that comic).

TomAz 1:53 AM  

A GREEN ARROW allows me to make a left turn on a busy street. I am picturing a comic book superhero who valiantly manages rush hour traffic flow in a Major Metropolitan Area.

I didn't know the INDIGO GIRLS weren't actually indigo, so thanks for cluing me in Rex. I suppose next you'll tell me the Blue Man Group is just wearing paint. Or that U2 is not actually a spy plane. C'mon man.



Harryp 2:22 AM  

Challenging on a Monday scale. I solved this without consideration as to a theme, then after finishing, saw 48Across RAINBOW and checked out the colors. If I had tried to solve this as a themed puzzle, I doubt it would have been solved more easily. Sometimes themes help a solve, but more often than I would like to see, they are superfluous.

Larry Gilstrap 2:31 AM  

It has been very dry in the desert this season. Last time I looked, accumulation since July 1 was barely more than one inch. The mountain slopes to the west catch the precipitation, the rising sun in the east provides illumination, and the result is many mornings featuring a RAINBOW. Last Thursday we were out birding and were treated to a slash of color for nearly one hour; no rain, but we did see BLUEBIRDS.

I liked the puzzle. Newton identified the exact same colors as the themers, so there's that. I, too, had not heard of the VIOLET RAY. I just did Sunday and Monday puzzles in succession and couldn't help noticing the DUMA and IS IT I? sequel.

My comics experience has been pretty much limited to Dennis the Menace and Luann, but growing up I knew that Lil' Abner was a big deal for lots of people. My phone tells me it ran for 43 years and I remember seeing Al Capp on many TV interview programs. At one time, he went after Charles Schulz and Peanuts with weeks of merciless satire.

Bumper sticker from the past: I Brake for RAINBOWs.

chefwen 2:38 AM  

@anon 1:24, huh? That made little or no sense.

Cute, easy and fun Monday. Liked the I SEE/ASEA crossing.

More familiar with fountain drinks called MALTedS not just MALTS, might be regional.

jae 3:24 AM  

Medium smooth Mon. Nice one Michael and Andrea. Liked it!

'merican in Paris 3:51 AM  

"Not sure why this gets made, published." Thanks for the comma, @Rex -- a punctuation mark that is on the decline, replace increasingly by the slash.

As for the puzzle, I found it one of the more challenging for a Monday, but not in a pleasant way. Maybe that's my problem: I approach Monday puzzles now as the one day when I can test myself on speed.

Hands up for not knowing VIOLET RAY, nor INDIGO GIRLS. Except for the latter, today's grid had a decidedly dated feel. ABBIE Hoffman, Li'l Abner, and the last time I read a GREEN ARROW comic book all date from (60s). RAUL Julia played Gomez in the 1990s remakes of the Addams Family television series ... which aired in the 1960s.

FWIW, chez nous we always say "nuked", never ZAPPED. Don't know if that is a generational thing, or a regional thing.

Finally, I prefer the Urban Dictionary definition of ROLFE: "Kicking or knocking into things at random, causing a lot of swearing and crying among grown men." Now THAT sounds current! Indeed, I can guarantee you'll see a display of it in tomorrow's news. And the day after's. Believe me.

P.S. to @chefwen: oranges turn orange only if the ambient temperature drops below a certain threshold. In countries where the temperature is always RED HOT, the chlorophyll in the skin is preserved and the fruit stays green. So @anon 1:24 is technically correct.

Loren Muse Smith 4:22 AM  

Look. Seven color themers plus RAINBOW. That’s quite impressive. Plus...

Two pairs are stacked, and two pairs cross.

Sure, it’s just a list, but it’s complete. “No wordplay or cleverness here at all. The colors are actually the colors.” I’m not sure how to find themers beginning with colors that do involve wordplay. Like, “green thumb” or “blue law” – are those somehow funner entries than GREEN ARROW and BLUE BIRDS? I dunno.

As regards the INDIGO GIRLS being a smug little insidery wink. Huh? More like coincidence, I’m betting. What other INDIGO _ _ is there? INDIGO snakes? Redo the whole grid to get two 12-letter entries to avoid being accused of smug winkery?

Speaking of Closer to Fine – what a song. I was stunned the first time I heard it and then again the first time I read the lyrics and thought about them.

Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
Lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.


Right? I know I come across as all positive and stuff here, but that’s just toward puzzles. I’m actually a dark, brooding storm cloud of negativity.

I was a cocktail waitress, but I’ve never seen an ORANGE PEEL garnish. I guess Quinn’s Mill in ATL was pedestrian? We had orange slices and lemon peels. And lime wedges. And onions, celery, cherries, olives. But I tell ya – I just googled it, and an ORANGE PEEL makes one gorgeous garnish.

WEEP, GRIEFS, BLOW it, Big Dance OVER for this Tar Heel. Texas A&M WOWED last night. Go Aggies!

Anonymous 5:43 AM  

@ChefWen - ORANGE in the puzzle phrase refers to the fruit, not the color—pace Rex. Obviously I pick a nit.

Lewis 5:45 AM  

@carola -- Yes, lotsa double letters at 20. I count 20 or above as unusually high (and below five is unusually low). Last time there was a non-theme-related unusually high count was 11/3 of last year. But perhaps even more impressive was that this puzzle had eight double E's. I don't track it, but that might be the highest single letter double count in a 15 x 15 I've ever encountered. This report from your resident alphadoppeltoter.
@lms -- With you on the coincidentality rather than a smug winkery of INDIGO GIRLS.

This must have been a tough puzzle to construct and still end up with an overall clean grid, and even with a dense theme, to keep it Monday easy. The puzzle never felt draggy; seven colors and a couple of Z's gave it some ZING. Thank you A&M (and I'll second @lms's shoutout to the school with that name).

RAINBOW has two syllables, the second un-accented, rhyming with O, and it had many relatives in the grid: HUGO, ARROW, OUZO, BURROW, YELLOW, MONO, ALLO, ANNO, VIO, OZO, G.O. (of GOP), and distant cousin INDIGO. To which I say BRAVO!

Aketi 6:03 AM  

There are seven colors in a RAINBOW and seven letters in the word RAINBOW.

Aketi 6:15 AM  
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Aketi 6:16 AM  

Carola. You may not be able to get a truly curved line but if the RAINBOW was embedded in other words with gray squares (instead of the ciircles Nancy detests) you could create a somewhat jagged arc just like you can create any other shapes that have shown up in trick puzzles. There was plenty of room in this puzzle to create and arced RIANBOW which would have added a little more ZING.

JJ 6:37 AM  

@lms. You jinxed them

Glimmerglass 6:40 AM  

I must be really ignorant. What the deuce is a VIOLET RAY? The only elctrotherahy I’ve heard of is shock therapy (ugh). What was the “antique medical device”? How did it work? What did it do? Google gives me handbags! There’s something interesting to be learned here, but nobody’s helping me. Lincoln was not the standard bearer of the GOP; the Republican Party wasn’t the GOP until 1875.

Aketi 6:49 AM  
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fast loan 6:52 AM  
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Aketi 7:02 AM  

All of the colors could have been turned into arcs, but VIOLET and BLUE are tilted on their sides. It dawned on me that the arc of a RAINBOW is the same shape as a frown, yet all that bright color after the rain seems to override that association.

Roo Monster 7:02 AM  

Hey All !
RAINBOWs! HEARTs! Thought it was gonna be a Lucky Charms theme...

We also have PONies, COOS and WOWED to make you feel all AWW. Then again, ZAPPED, WEEP, GRR, and GRIEFS to get you back to reality!

Did like this color-smattered puz. Even get an extra color, LIME. Clean fill, even with the themers hogging the grid. Got our RRN, nice one, too, LIII. Go big or go home. I SEE no NEED to WEEP over this puz. Good job MW and ACME!

PINK HEARTS, YELLOW MOONS, ORANGE STARS, GREEN CLOVERS, BLUE DIAMONDS, PURPLE HORSESHOES, RED BALLOONS...
RooMonster
DarrinV

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Banner day for Lewis.

VIOLET RAY just seems like such an outlier, but I struggle to come up with a good alternative. VIOLET EYE could be clued using Elizabeth Taylor, but really it should be EYEs and that wouldn’t fit. VIOLET OIL is probably better.

I seem to be in a minority in having learned VIBGYOR as my mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow – having grown up on Dorothy Collins’s Experiment Songs.

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

I’m with @lms on the INDIGO GIRLS’ song “Closer to Fine”. My favorite lines in the song - and one of my favorite lyrics - is the line

He never did marry or see a B-grade movie,

referring to a “doctor of philosophy”. The juxtaposition of something so important and so trivial (you decide which is which) perfectly captures the arrogant smugness of some academicians and their lack of any helpful counsel on meeting real life issues.

Please note my qualifying “some” in my previous sentence. I harbor no ill will towards most academicians.

I liked the puzzle as well. As usual, I think @rex was much too hard on the constructors. Not every theme can be scintillating, and after all, it’s a Monday puzzle.

- Jim C. in Maine

Hungry Mother 7:27 AM  
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Hungry Mother 7:38 AM  

Nice start to the week. My bracket and crossword streak were shattered yesterday, so starting fresh. FWIW: RAINBOW is just a word in English, not a rainbow.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

The colors more accurately list the colors of the visible spectrum.
However since this is, after all, the NYT, spectrum was changed to a much less accurate rainbow to conform with the leftist agenda.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

When I lived in several different countries in Africa, we never ate an "orange" orange. They were all green. But they were sweet and juicy. So it was interesting to read about what the commentator above said about needing a drop in temperature. Lil Abner is one of the classic comics so I was also surprised that our distinguished professor of comics thought so little of it.

chefbea 8:15 AM  

Thanks Andrea and Michael for a fun puzzle. It was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.....for St. Patty's day!!!

Of course love chili con carne!!

Nancy 8:29 AM  

Colors!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm absolutely WOWED!!!!!!!!!!!! What a puzzle!!!!!!!!!

QuasiMojo 8:36 AM  

VIOLET QUILL would have been a fun answer. It was a group of seven influential gay male writers in the early 80s.

I first threw in VIOLETTA (which didn't fit) as the electric device because there used to be a bizarre crackpot machine by that name that massaged the body by sending out visible electric shocks (I suppose using Violet Rays.) The S/M crowd loved it. It was very Frankensteinesque and is now a collector's item.

Back when I drank I seem to recall (through a haze) getting Cointreau served with an ORANGE PEEL rather than a slice.

Lately I've been underwhelmed by Monday puzzles but this one seemed solid, well-constructed, and hardly BLAND.

GHarris 8:40 AM  

Lil Abner spawned a Broadway play and characters who became cultural icons like Daisy Mae and Sadie Hawkins Day. Thought puzzle was a bit crunchy for a Monday in that I had a few write overs but no real challenges.

Birchbark 8:50 AM  

Last week in Denver I saw a full double RAINBOW.

@LMS (4:22): What other Indigos are there? What of INDIGO Jones, the 17th c. London architect who designed the Queen's House in Greenwich? I know it skews a little old. Wait, that's Inigo Jones. Sorry. But it would be cool to see Inigo cross IM PEI.

I also remember listening to "Closer to Fine" for the first time. On the car radio on a Sunday driving back from spending the weekend with a friend. "There's more than one answer to these questions, pointing me in a crooked line." And the "less I seek my source" harmony. Gosh.

Two Ponies 8:53 AM  

@ John in SoCal is spot on about Lil Abner and Pogo.

Things were going so well with this theme until violet.
I would have scrapped the whole thing just to avoid that.

@ Tom 1:40, Throwing out an antagonizing challenge to trolls makes you one as well.

@ LMS, Thank you for those lyrics. I loved the lines you quoted so much that I wrote them down.

mathgent 8:55 AM  

On Jeff Chen's blog, Andrea Carla Michaels mentions that the clues were dumbed down to make it a Monday. Remind me why we do Mondays.

Still jazzed about how the classy Del Potro came back yesterday at Indian Wells against Federer. In the third set, Federer was serving for the championship at 5-4 and was ahead 40-15. Del Potro won the next two points, went on to win the game, and then took the tie-breaker. Gutsy guy!

Nate 9:02 AM  

It seems a little bit of poor taste to run a Goldie HAWN clue on the same day as a Li'l Abner clue, given that she accused him of sexual harassment. A lot of people did, actually...

Nate 9:03 AM  

Correction to my above comment: Goldie Hawn accused Al Capp of sexual harassment. In case that wasn't obvious.

JOHN X 9:09 AM  

Outstanding Monday puzzle! I had quite a few write-overs (on an iPad) due to clever misdirects in the clues: bar/PUB, pant/BLOW, smith/ROLFE, ONend/ONDVD. Yet these were all clever clues, well within Monday's level for beginners.

I got VIOLETRAY completely on crossings so I didn't think about it until I got here. I know an ultraviolet ray is used by dentists to cure bondings after they're applied to teeth, but VIOLETRAYS were apparently amazing cure-all wonders, because I looked it up. My favorite use I found was as a cure for "brain fog." I need one of these contraptions.

I saw RAUL Julia on Broadway in "Dracula" the day after I saw game 4 of the 1977 World Series at Yankee Stadium. I still have the WS ticket stub; my bleacher seat cost $5. Yes, five dollars, and that included tax.

Sir Hillary 9:29 AM  

"INDIGO GIRLS is a smug little insidery wink (NYT loves those)". C'mon Rex, we all know you mean Will loves those. At least own your grudges, dude.

I so wanted 60A to be GREENpaint.

FrankStein 9:36 AM  

Speaking of "rainbow" legends, here's Judy Garland singing "Hello BLUEBIRD" from "I Could Go On Singing."

https://youtu.be/qRuG13PMPjo

Normal Norm 9:53 AM  

I really resent that a lovely natural thing of beauty has been hijacked into being the symbol of perversion.

Nancy 9:55 AM  

While the puzzle itself didn't exactly make my HEART go ZING, the blog sent me to YouTube for an interesting interlude:

First was "Closer to Fine." A song I'd never heard, but I loved the lyric lines that @Loren provided, so I went to listen. Really liked it -- which I don't say about too much of the pop music recommended here. But for a pop song, it has a very folkie vibe, and folk music is one of my favorite genres. I found the song very infectious.

Then I went to find out about Al Capp's casting couch abuse of Goldie Hawn, courtesy of @Nate (9:03). It was an incident I'd completely missed hearing about. Googling took me to two Hawn TV interviews where she describes the very Harvey Weinstein-like episode (do all these creeps read from the same playbook??) with her customary humor, honesty and warmth. Shocking -- but I do remember TV interviewer David Susskind saying way back in the day that Al Capp was the worst scumbag he'd ever met in all his years of interviewing people.

Jennifer A. 9:55 AM  

@Nate9:02 AM
I agree completely! Goldie HAWN is always in bad taste. Good call!

Joseph Michael 10:02 AM  

So in today's world of identity politics, would this be considered a puzzle of color?

GILL I. 10:03 AM  

And...LIME is green, NILE is blue, DILL is a beautiful green color, REEF is coral and then you have color MATE.
I know, they don't belong in the arco iris, but I like that they sit there and smile at me.
A Monday that I had to actually think before I plopped. Let's see....Does ABBIE have an ey? Does ROLFE have two effs? Is it Zest? Oh, it's ZING. How can you not get PUB? PUB and darts and I bet you can order a Cafe Brulot Cocktail with a little PEEL sitting on top of the creme. Better than an Irish coffee.
Perfect Monday. PAPPY Yokum in the middle, the other color Goldie and her HAWN and the memory of drinking OUZO and falling off my PUB stool.
Fun...Michael and Andrea.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

I had a hard time getting past one across. I knew Abbie Hoffman--fellow worcesterite. He may have been a lot of things, but the word "radical" is not appropriate. If anything, Abbie Hoffman ascribed to the traditional conservative school of American political change. His plan to levitate the Pentagon wasn't afar from the absurdity of the Boston Tea Party or the Diggers. He was ten years older at least than most of the 1960s radicals, who reject Abbie and his ilk as the Old Left. In fact, much of that Old Left eventually morphed in to the Reagan majority of the 1980s. Call him an activists or a political philosopher or a street artists, but radical is just plain wrong.

Z 10:21 AM  

I can think of no more damning excoriation than, “It’s only a Monday.” @LMS points out the construction feat, and @mathgent points out why this seems to lack the usual @ACME zest, but neither really rebuts Rex’s assessment. Pretty literal, basic, and bland. @ACME is a top notch constructor, this one is less than I expected when I saw her name. I read @ACME’s comments over on xword.com and can’t help but wonder how much better this puzzle would have been clued at a Wednesday or Thursday level of difficulty.

I differentiate between “big in their day” and “influential.” Li’l Abner was huge, comparable in fame to Taylor Swift. But how much influence does that strip exercise today? Peruse a comics page today and you can see the influence of Bill Watterson and Gary Larson. I’m not sure I could identify a single strip that reflects the drawing style or sensibility of Li’l Abner. I’d argue that Li’l Abner stopped being influential 40 years ago.

JC66 10:36 AM  
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GILL I. 10:42 AM  

Just now reading all of @Rex and all of the comments.
@Rex...Li'l Abner? Whaaat? Classic comic. Do you know Pappy's first name is Lucifer Ornamental? Mammy's first name is Pansy. Ornamental Pansy. The name Yokum is derived from Yokel and hokum. You could spend a semester on the names alone.
@ketshef. I always remember the colors of the rainbow because of the mnemonic ROY G BIV. I learned that one from this blog. Now that I think about it, too bad Andrea and Michael didn't include that little tidbit .

puzzlehoarder 10:47 AM  

This was a pleasant Monday solve. It wasn't so much that it was more difficult than your typical Monday than that the fill seemed fresher and there was no overly corny word play in the theme.

So often the fill in early week puzzles can be a monotonous crosswordese slog. This one kept me on my toes not being sure of what was next. It was intelligent enough to earn respect from me inspite of there being few real obstacles. The solving never felt routine.

I never heard the Goldie Shawn story but what I've read about All Capp online detailed his reputation for using his celebrity status to sexually harassed women.

jb129 10:51 AM  

Very easy & very quick - even for Monday.

Chuck Duggins 10:52 AM  

Would have been nice if the colors had been in sequence, e.g. ROYGBIV.

puzzlehoarder 10:52 AM  

That word should have been "harass". You edit and reedit and the software just seems to have a random mind of it's own.

John from SoCal 11:15 AM  

@Z

Li'l Abner's influence was never on other newspaper comics. It was a scathing critique of American values and social norms, and it was huge and influential. Often it was huge and influential on people who didn't realize how much they were being influenced, who thought it was just "funny hillbillies." No less than John Steinbeck considered Al Capp to be the best writer of the day. And was he a bastard? Al Capp was a miserable prick and a contrarian; when America went deeply conservative he was a flaming liberal, and when it swung to very liberal he became a stone-age conservative, because above all he hated hypocrisy. And the critiques he made and often originated are still being used today, often by people who have no idea where some of those concepts came from.


Nancy 11:33 AM  

@mathgent and @Z seem to indicate that the clues in this puzzle were "dumbed down" to make it suitable for a Monday. I went to xword.com to check. The constructors hint at it, though they don't dwell on it or sound unhappy. ACME never seems unhappy about anything, actually -- she sounds like a very happy person. Still...

Why the "Monday ghetto" for a smart woman with so many puzzles to her credit. Doesn't she have the clout to insist on a late week puzzle? I know she's done some harder ones from time to time, but her usual spot is Monday. Wouldn't she want a late-week puzzle where nothing has to be "dumbed down"? I can't help but note that Rachel Maddow, with no previous puzzles to her credit at all, got herself a nice crunchy Friday, thank you very much. If I were a puzzle constructor, I would no more want my puzzle dumbed down than I would want any of my writing dumbed down. To have a puzzle editor do that would be really, really galling.

Banana Diaquiri 11:36 AM  

@LMS:
'What other INDIGO _ _ is there? INDIGO snakes?"

indigo bunting. it's a bird. range? go look it up.

as to The Girls, indigo is considered a version of lavender, which itself is a marker for gay, and they are. I thought both facts were widely known?

Masked and Anonymous 11:36 AM  

VIOLETRAY. har

M&A Research Dept. instituted google searches usin "VIOLET X", where "X" was each letter of the alphabet. 3-Letter hits:

* VIOLET DOG. nah. Actually known as "My Pal Violet", stuffed toy dog.
* VIOLET GUM. nah. Actually violet-colored Choward's Scented Gum.
* VIOLET MOM. Evidently a TV series called "Mom", with a daughter in it named Violet. nah.
* VIOLET OIL. yep. Says "Violet Oil", right on the bottle.
* VIOLET RAY. yep. NY handbag designer.
* VIOLET SKY. maybe. Has lotsa weirdish meanins. There's some people on Facebook named that, it seems.
* VIOLET TOY. nah. Points back to that toy DOG thingy.
* VIOLET UGG. maybe. UGG boots do come in that color.

Sooo … VIOLET RAY seems like as good a choice as any.

staff weeject pick: GRR. [VIOLE(n)T DOG sound] LIII almost seems desperately related, somehow.
Amazin fillins, considerin 8 themers are jammed in there. Colorful theme. Take a (rain) BOW. Etc.

Thanx, M & A [Michael & ACME].

Masked & Anonymo4Us


**gruntz**

Masked and Anonymous 11:42 AM  

p.s.
Also, for completeness sake …
* VIOLET TIP. Saharan butterfly.
* VIOLETEAR. Mexican hummingbird.

M&A Research Dept.

Bijoux 12:03 PM  

Susan WHY?

QuasiMojo 12:17 PM  

@Namcy, someone once told me and I don’t know if it is true or not, but Monday puzzles are allegedly harder to construct. Especially if you want to avoid crosswordese. I think some might consider it a badge of honor to do one well. Where’s Patrick Berry btw??

GILL I. 12:31 PM  

@Nancy...@Quasi is right. Mondays are really the most difficult to construct. @Andrea explained this to me in fine detail. Imagine that you have to cater to newbies, not insult the intelligence of those that are crossword experts, entertain a huge audience and hope Will is satisfied you've accomplished all of the above.
I've done some of @Andrea's NYT Sundays. They were challenging to me but always delightful.
I've never seen a Patrick B Monday..... maybe too difficult to pull it off?

Lewis 12:33 PM  

My favorite clues from last week:

1. Where you might hear someone say "Duck!" (4)
2. Little sweater? (4)
3. Mideast diet? (7)
4. Merchant with tiny shopping carts (7)
5. Bishop's group, once (7)


POND
PORE
KNESSET
ETAILER
RATPACK

Lewis 12:34 PM  

I am leaving for a jaunt out West for a week and a half -- see you on the other side!

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

A martini with an orange twist is called a Clair Trevor, an Oscar winning actress from the movie "Key Largo" and it's delicious. Both the cocktail and the movie.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Hey Rex for what its worth, FWIW is an initialism not an acronym.
OTOH I have to thank you. Youve redefined the word gall by calling someone else smug.

Teedmn 1:10 PM  

VIBGYOR - I'm with @kitshef on the mnemonic I learned being the reverse of what it seems most USE. And I'm not going to bother to re-learn it, FWIW. (Which was my favorite clue/answer pair in today's puzzle).

I saw the INDIGO GIRLS in concert last August - great musicianship on display. I was surprised to find that Amy does a lot of the singing that I had always assumed Emily did - not sure how I got that impression.

I had trouble seeing VIOLET RAY emerge on the grid. VIOLE TRAY. bIOLETRAY also flashed in my head. Finally realizing it was one of the theme answers (hadn't seen BLUEBIRDS yet in the downs) set straight my dooky attempt to interpret it. I wonder how they ZAPPED people with VIOLET RAYs back when that was an acceptable treatment.

I smiled at I SEE crossing ASEA. Nice Monday, MW and Acme.

Anoa Bob 1:12 PM  

Once saw a triple RAINBOW off the coast of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Well, maybe it was more like a 2.5, with the top two going from horizon to horizon in full, brilliant color, and the lowest one fainter and only a partial arc.

If you want to make your own RAINBOW, I recommend using a Water Prism, like the ones here. I have a Diamond Bevel Water Prism, like this one. They are a little pricey, but well worth it I think. I never fail to be WOWED by the intensity of the colors.

Roo Monster 1:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 1:42 PM  

If I knew how to change my nom de comment from Anonymous to an ad hoc name the way some of you do, I'd sign in as The Messiah for this comment:

Surely he hath BORNE our GRIEFS and carried our sorrows . . .

Joe Bleaux 1:43 PM  

Gotta interrupt the tsk-tsking long enough to ask, FWIW: Isn't Rex's forte comic BOOKS, not STRIPS (like Lil Abner or, as someone mentioned, Pogo)?

'merican in Paris 1:51 PM  

@Anonymous 1:42 PM

Click on "Name/URL". Type in "The Messiah", and Bob's your Uncle. A URL is optional.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

@Glimmerglass - when googling, try to remember these two things:
-to google a multi-word thing, put the thing in quotes
-to get information rather than ads for handbags, add the word "wiki" to anything you google, ever
Now go google <"violet ray" wiki> and live long and prosper.

Catherine 2:10 PM  

Guys, you aren't going to believe this, but we actually had a Violet Ray Machine when I was a kid! We played with it all the time. It had glass tubes that filled up with purple electric light and shot out little lightening bolts when you put your hand near it. It made sort of an OZONE-y smell. The box said it was supposed to cure "brain fag." I'm stunned to see it in a crossword, let alone a Monday.

Joan 2:20 PM  

@Tom- YOU are a troll...

tea73 2:33 PM  

Lil Abner ran in the local paper through more or less my college years. I always thought it was creepy. I did not like the drawing style, the overly sexy Daisy Mae, or the meanness of the humor. Pogo was way better.

Found this puzzle cute. Never heard of VIOLET RAY. I don't know why I don't listen to the INDIGO GIRLS more often, I love their harmonies and grown up lyrics.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

Tom may be rignt about Abe. But its equally likely that FDR wouldnt recognize the Democratic party as it currently exists.

Z 2:36 PM  

@Nancy - Look at those numbers at the top, 6, 40, 9, 2, 2, 0, 0. I have no idea how many themeless puzzles @ACME has submitted, but unless that number is 0 my guess is that thise 0’s are not because of quality. I thought the shade she parenthetically threw was fairly obvious.

@John from SoCal - Granted that the comic strip was huge. But still influential today? Examples? You make it sound as if Capp invented political satire. Mencken, Nast, and Swift might beg to differ. I’d say the same of the influence of Kelly and Trudeau. There just isn’t a lot of political satire in multi-panel comics out there these days. There may still be echoes of Li’l Abner bouncing around the zeitgeist, but those echoes are fading. Or are you going to argue the likes of Jon Stewart, John Oliver, SNL, etc, are Capp’s intellectual heirs? That’s a hard sell but feel free to try.

@anon1:42 - Below the Comment box and above the captcha are four options. Pick “Name/URL” and a box appears to enter whatever name you choose (and an URL, too). This is a nice option if you want to establish ownership of your comments without the hassle of signing into a google account. This option does not allow for filthy self-moderation, though.

Banana Diaquiri 2:45 PM  

@Z:
You make it sound as if Capp invented political satire.

well, I'd offer Walt Kelly as the vanguard in the comic strip realm. anyone earlier (1941)?

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

Banana,
Dont wate ykur breath. @z never admits a mistake. No matter how egrious or obvious his error.

tea73 3:03 PM  

Given that L'il Abner started in 1934 according to Wikipedia, it predates Pogo. So I'll have to give @z the points for this one.

pabloinnh 3:06 PM  

@Banana Diaquiri

The Yellow Kid debuted in 1895 and eventually led to the term "yellow journalism". Not sure if this qualifies as political satire but it sure is early.

Banana Diaquiri 3:25 PM  

@anon/3:00

sorry to disappoint, but I wasn't poking Z, at all. near as I can tell s/he was questioning the first assignment of political satire to Capp. on the whole, I never saw Capp as having much political satire on offer. Kelly on the other hand... had tonnes.

sanfranman59 3:47 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:42 4:14 1.11 79.7% Medium-Challenging

I usually rip through puzzles with an ACME byline, but this one offered more resistance than usual. I made a few wrong guesses and that's about all that's needed to take a Monday solve into at least Medium territory. fOal for PONY off the O at 25D, sodaS then colaS(?) for MALTS at 53A, Loan for LEND at 55D. Plus, I don't know VIOLET RAY or the GREEN ARROW (though I've probably encountered the latter before). It's great starting out the week with a very colorful RAINBOW.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

I suspect our constructor is a fan of The Simpsons because not only is LISA included but so is MONORAIL. In one of the most famous episodes of the show, a parody of The Music Man, a con man comes to Springfield and sells the city on building a monorail (before splitting town).

Joe Dipinto 4:58 PM  

I was going to suggest INDIGO BUNTING but I see @Banana Diaquiri already did. Anyway it has too many letters.

Re: YELLOW LIGHT and its clue, Rex missed the opportunity to post a video of Reverend Jim's driver's license test from Taxi.

I don't like the AROAR/ASEA/ATILT/ASTIR answers. I know they're words, but they annoy me.

Doc John 5:51 PM  

I'd be interested to read Rex's posts if he did the puzzle not knowing who the constructor was. I'm sure they'd be very different.

Roo Monster 6:13 PM  

Repeat @Me 1:25
Dang, I hate when my phone gets all possessed and reposts my previous rumblings.
Sorry All. :-)

Z 6:27 PM  

@Banana Diaquiri - Well, actually... I am the person who threw out a Li’l Abner/Taylor Swift comparison to thundering silence. It was more @SoCalJohn who seemed to me to be saying that Capp was a major influence on political comic strip satire. Wikipedia mentions the satirical bona fides, and there’s an old analysis to be found. My guess is more than a quick surface google search would return lots more on the satire. My own take is that fame is fleeting and I’d rather see Elaine May in a puzzle than PAPPY. I don’t see much of case for Capp having an enduring influence, and think at most we can credit him with giving comic strips a level of artistic and political relevance they may not have had before him.

@anon3:00 - Two things. I do this thing where, before I espouse and aver on a point of potential or actual discussion here, I use this thing called a search engine to see what and who is out there. When Uncle Google says, “hey Z, you’re full of it” I then do this thing of not publishing my misconceptions and misinformation. That really saves me from needing to do many mea culpas. Second, when I am wrong I often repeatedly point out that I was wrong. It helps, though, to pay attention or you might miss it.

TomAz 11:49 PM  

FWIW:

@Lewis: I very much enjoy your "clues of the week" posts. ("Mideast diet" was my personal #1 this week).

@sanfranman59: I like your data-driven approach to ascertaining relative difficulty.

@ many of you: I enjoy reading your observations and witticisms.

Thanks!

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:11 AM  

The fill is pretty impressive. With 8 theme entries (OK maybe technicallly 7), there are no rough spots. Yes, there is some crosswordese here and there, but the constructor still managed to put in some nice bonuses like ALLOCATE and MONORAIL. That's very good, and makes one forgive the mostly bad 3-letter words (and there are only 8 of them anyways!)

I'm late to the party so no need to blabber. An apt and pleasant Monday.

GRADE: B, 3.5 stars.

noparking 2:12 AM  

Is the punch line "the Indigo Girls and the drummer from Def Leppard"?

kitshef 7:28 AM  

Went to a fungi lecture last night and among the maybe 15 species featured on the slides was one labelled an INDIGO milky. It felt eerie.

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Burma Shave 9:58 AM  

FREE OLAY

At the PUB Judy CARNE gave me a YELLOWLIGHT,
GRR, ISLET her look me OVER like a PAWN,
but I WOWED another GAL with my HEART on that night,
I got the GREEN to MATE with Goldie HAWN.

--- ABBIE “PAPPY” ROLFE

spacecraft 10:45 AM  

Crappola. The colors aren't even in order, which would have added a touch of elegance--but what would the fill have looked like THEN (shudder)? ONDVD directly OVER a horrible triple-I RRN, ITI: the absolute pits of desperate fill, and way overworked stuff like ASEA and IMPEI...GRR. And who are INDIGOGIRLS? And VIOLETRAY? Never heard of either. Oh...maybe Charlotte had a sister?

This puzzle has one redeeming factor, and it has to do with the funniest scene ever put on TV, or ONDVD:
Reverend Jim and Tony are taking a driving test.

JIM (loud whisper): Hey Tony!
TONY (l.w.): What?
JIM " : What does a YELLOWLIGHT mean?
TONY " : Slow down.
Jim " : O-kay. What. does. a. YELLOW. LIGHT. mean?
TONY (even louder): SLOW DOWN!
Jim (exasperated): Oh-KAY! Whaaat? Doooes?

etc.

For that memory alone, and for co-DOD's TINA Fey and Judy CARNE, I upgrade this to a bogey.

rainforest 1:55 PM  

I don't know whether Monday puzzles are more difficult to construct, but I do know that the esteemed Patrick Berry had one published a year or two ago. Maybe someone should ask him. Regardless, as a puzzle, this one was fine with an impressively dense theme and revealer, and pretty good fill. Very appropriate for Monday.

Li'l Abner and Pogo were brilliant comics in so many ways, funny, insight-fully satiric, and beautifully drawn to boot. I'm not going to comment on their continuing influence other than to say, "I've seen the enemy, and he is us".

I "discovered" The INDIGO GIRLS about 25 years ago, and I love their music. 'Closer to Fine' is great, as is 'Galileo' and 'Wooden Boat', among many others.

@Burma Shave - funny one yesterday, and another good one today.

leftcoastTAM 2:23 PM  

Can't see why anyone would dislike this puzzle. It's smooth, easy, and solid, like a good Monday should be.

Perfectly happy to see ROY G. BIV and the INDIGO GIRLS, featuring VIOLET RAY.

FWIW, wouldn't start the morning with MALTS and OUZO, though. Prefer fruit and Greek yogurt.

Diana,LIW 2:59 PM  

I enjoyed the solve, and at the same time I could "hear" the criticism. Thought @Rex would gripe about the colors not being in order, but instead @Spacey did. And surprised I am that @Spacey didn't know the INDIGOGIRLS from pop culture placements in other media.

Then again, I avoided all of OFL's near-errors whilst noting their temptations. Like PUB and bar, etc. I've learned not to write down LEND or loan until I'm certain of one of the crosses. To paraphrase West Side Story, "I feel brilliant, oh so brilliant!" Think I'll sing that all day.

Ugh - MALTS and OUZO in the morning - or at night. Nah!

Have a colorful day, all.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 4:28 PM  

I learned it as ROY G BIV back in high school, so all the RAINBOW colors were there. Nuttin’ wrong with that.

I bought that book by ABBIE Hoffman and in an ironic twist, someone stole it from my car.

Last time I drank OUZO I could’ve spent the night with both Barb and Laura (not the Bushes) from Swedish class in my waterbed, per their COOS of “OLAY me down”. But did I? No. Instead I let them use it so they wouldn’t have to drive back to Mpls. and I left with my buddy Tim for his bachelor party weekend. Like a good best man should. IFNOT, it woulda been one for the annals. That’s *annals*. LIVE and let LIVE. Ahhh, OUZO.

Goldie HAWN? Yeah baby.

Nice Mon-puz that I SPED through.

Anonymous 11:34 PM  

The peel may not be orange colored, the girls may not be indigo colored, the superhero may not be all green, the tape may not be red but the puzzle for a Monday comes through in winning colors.

Unknown 9:28 AM  

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