Springfield's minor league team on Simpsons / MON 11-28-11 / 1940s-50s wrestler with golden locks / Kansas town on Chisholm Trail / Notorious 1920s-30s bank robber

Monday, November 28, 2011

Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Appearance-related Name — four well-known names that begin with an adjective related to attractiveness

Word of the Day: FICHE (19A: Piece of microfilm) —
A microfiche. [?!] (answers.com)
• • •

Love the theme answers, but the theme seems awfully loose. PRETTY and UGLY go together, but PLAIN and GORGEOUS are less obvious complements. Plus, three of these are specific people and one is a type of person. Further PRETTY BOY FLOYD ruins theme consistency a bit, since the BOY doesn't really have anywhere to go—not part of the theme, not a name like BETTY, JANE, or GEORGE. Seems like an OK theme idea that didn't quite come out of the oven looking like it should. Not terribly fond of the partials posing as actual answer (SLOE GIN, NO MEN), not to mention the actual partials (ANAME, ONAN). The FICHE and REUNE corners could surely be better. I do like how this grid has a relatively low word count (for a Monday—74), which allows for some very interesting longer answers, like HOFFMAN, ABILENE, WISEGUY, ISOTOPES (5D: Springfield's minor-league team on "The Simpsons"), PILSENER (39D Light-colored beer or the glass it comes in) and GALUMPH (25A: Walk clumsily). Difficulty level seemed pitched right at perfect Monday level. An enjoyable if imperfect little puzzle.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Notorious 1920s-'30s bank robber (PRETTY BOY FLOYD) — wanted CLYDE BARROW at first ...
  • 33A: America Ferrera's Emmy-winning role (UGLY BETTY)
  • 44A: Hardly a beauty queen (PLAIN JANE)
  • 54A: 1940s-'50s wrestler with golden locks (GORGEOUS GEORGE)

Why in the World do you clue ABILENE (10D: Kansas town on the Chisholm Trail) as a Kansas town (pop. 6,844), esp. on a Monday??? The Texas city of the same name is about 15 times larger. I could barely bring myself to write in ABILENE, and then, when I did, I beat myself for thinking all these years that ABILENE was in Texas ...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Tobias Duncan 12:18 AM  

The queen of Mondays is back!
Loved it
Printing out tons for my coffee shop friends tomorrow.

Was VERY disappointed however to see ABILENE not clued as the Texas city on a Monday, especially after I spent several years stationed there in the 80s at Dyess AFB.
I dont think an atheist has ever had more fun in the bible belt than I had in Abilene TX.I absolutely loved that town and its people.

Never heard of GALUMPH but it is very lovable.

Thanks Andrea!

Gill I. P. 12:20 AM  

When I do a crossword, I tend to look at interesting clues and answers and how they all just gel in the end. I thought this theme was PRETTY GORGEOUS and I didn't find any UGLY or PLAIN words in the lot.Everything just came together nicely.
At first, I did have galumth for 25A as isatotes sounded just fine to me. Then a light came on - I've seen the word before. I wonder if GALUMPH is considered a portmanteu word or if it's created by onomatopoeia (trying spelling that)?
Lots of fun Andrea. Please keep them coming.

Clark 12:26 AM  

FLOW as 1A. Yes. I thought the theme worked. Gorgeous is an A. Pretty is a B. Plain is a C. Ugly is a D. (No offense to Ugly Betty, who is a class act.)

My favorite word by far: REUNE.

syndy 12:44 AM  

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!He left it dead,and with it's head he went GALUMPHING back. "And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms,my beamish boy!O frabjous day Callooh! Callay" he chortled in his joy. How old does it make me that I remember Gorgeous George? another beauty for our own Miss Acme!

CoffeeLvr 12:44 AM  

I thought it was fitting to have OBESE between the Across answers of SARA Lee cakes and Famous AMOS cookies.

Cute puzzle; thanks Andrea. I hope to get back to my solving and posting routines this week; this is a fine start. I did fill in 14 letter Handsome Harley [Race] before GORGEOUS GEORGE, but the time frame is all wrong.

I am old enough that FICHE was a gimme, takes me back to hours of dusty research.

REUNE was my least favorite answer.

pk 1:03 AM  

Whenever I see Andrea Carla Michael's name on the byline, I know I am in for a treat. Loved this puzzle! As always. Fresh and lively.

I suspect that Monday level puzzles are just as difficult to construct as any other day of the week, so I don't think of them as "cute" or "little." Same size as every other day except Sunday.

Cheers, Ms. ACME! Thank you for a great start to Cyber Monday.

mayrant: yes, I may

pk 1:10 AM  


retired_chemist 1:33 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Fastest time ever,thus easy-peasy here.

Used several crosses to get PRETTY BOY FLOYD, knew UGLY BETTY, and the theme was then clear. Unusual for me - no writeovers.

Is "RANG IN" the correct term for what the contestants on Jeopardy! do? They just punch a button. Joon?

Why NOT ABILENE KS? Terminus of the Chisholm Trail and thus a substantial piece of American history. Eisenhower's childhood home. Abilene TX is, well, just there. One of about eight places that claim to be the "Buckle of the Bible Belt."

Thanks, Andrea.

jae 1:59 AM  

Very smooth Mon. Nicely done Andrea! Is it just coincidence that the BOYs are better looking than the girls?

chefwen 2:33 AM  

Another class act from our own Monday Royalty. Brava Andrea!!!

Yeah, what @jae said, what's with the plain and ugly girls vs. the pretty boys. Andrea, I am shocked, I surely thought that you would have worked your way around that. Don't know how, but I'll work on that.

Good start to the week, thanks ACME.

capcha - licker, I'm throwing that one over to @dk.

acela canoe michaels 2:39 AM  

@jae, @chefwen
it's all about the numbers, baby!
i needed a fourth theme answer to go with UGLYBETTY, PRETTYBOYFLOYD, GORGEOUSGEORGE..
Wanted, for balance,another woman,another looks adjective akin to ugly, something wellknown enough for a Monday, AND it had to be ten letters..
When i stumbled upon PLAINJANE I almost died and went to heaven!!!
So I tried to make up for it with the fabulous GINA Lollobrigida and the sexy "Lola" GWEN Verdon...don't get prettier that that! ;)

As for doing better in the corners...My NE was changed from WOLFMAN and OBAMA and LINAS to HOFFMAN/OBESE/FICHE...so, you decide! ;)
The rest was intact (except one other letter, I had OrAN/MArY)

Everything else is mine, I was happy to get in one Beatles and one John Lennon (IMAGINE) and my original OVER clue was Woody Allen's "Bullets ----Broadway"

Admittedly ISOTOPES was a suck-up to Rex, as it was his bday and all...

I recently played REUNE in Scrabble, which I had learned from crosswords, and it was challenged off!

Kristin 2:45 AM  

Only knew FICHE from having seen a few back in ancient days. I knew a really weird guy who thought they were a great way to publish amateur rags about "alternate lifestyles" and fringe religion/politics. This was oh, 25 odd years ago, before the Web...REUNE, thats weird, googled a dictionary to make sure it was a real word. Never used it, although my high school class is planning to REUNE soon.

Woody Guthrie wrote a song about PRETTY BOY FLOYD, making him out to be an American Robin Hood of sorts. I guess every country needs a Robin Hood legend.

chefwen 3:00 AM  

@acela canoe michaels - I take it back, did not think of the two talented and beautiful Gina Lollobrigida and Gwen Verdon until you pointed them out. My bad! Take away my shocked expression.

Favorite was 25A GALUMPH, just fun to say.

Clark 3:33 AM  

@acme -- That's why I liked it. REUNE: A perfectly cromulent word that doesn't show up in the dictionary.

JaxInL.A. 3:38 AM  

Fun puzzle, lovely theme. Congratulations, Andrea. It always gives me a thrill to see your byline on a puzzle. I loved the three double-letter down words all cheek-by-jowl in that SanFran region. GALUMPH was my favorite entry, though ISOTOPES and all the cool words Rex are part of why we value the ACME oeuvre.

I have to admit that I rather agree with Rex about some of the partial fill, esp. HAD AT. I so wanted to find a better clue for DID I, though if there was an easy one either you or Will would surely have found it already. DIDI Hirsch Mental Health Clinic does a lot of heavy lifting in the community here, but I'm sure that's much too regional to make a good clue. This answer also made me think of a very popular cookie bakery here in L.A., famous for cookie and ice cream sandwiches, among other things. It turns out that it's spelled Diddy Riese, unfortunately, even if it didn't suffer from aforesaid regional limitations.

Lovely Monday to start what will be a hectic and trying week. Thanks!

dk 6:22 AM  

When I am not making some wince with my side of the playful repartie between Andrea and me I pen odes to themes in x-words.

This puzzles appearance theme is what I long for -- a smooth FLOW going from boy to girl with a great psychological twist in SEEME -look beneath the surface.

**** (4 Stars) All is right with the world


Z 7:23 AM  

Another fine Monday. Thanks ACME.

jberg 7:40 AM  

Rats, I should have got here earlier, rather than relaxing over my cup of coffee -- almost all my points (ugly women, pretty men, Kansas, Lewis Carroll) have been made already.

One left: you could have avoided one of the partials, and made it even more fun, by cluing 18A, ONAN, with a Biblical reference.

joho 7:43 AM  

@acela canoe michaels ... you've done it again! Another frothy, fun, "just right" Monday from the queen herself! Perfect puzzle to start off the week.

There's nothing UGLY about this PRETTY puzzle. I'd call it PLAIN GORGEOUS!

Absolutely LOVE GALUMPH.

Thanks, Andrea!

(On a side note, my printer's out of ink so I solved on the computer last night. I can see how someone could develop a speedy system but for me, I'm so must faster with pen and paper when I'm able to write in both across and down answers at the same time.)

Craig ... 7:44 AM  

Another quality that helps unify the theme answers even more is their sound -- they (along with the clue and answer for 17A) rhyme or have soft rhymes.
One day on Sunset Boulevard, a man named Amos appeared before me (and my printing press) with an 8x10 inch black and white photo of a cookie, and a resume for the cookie (listing its ingredients and history). He wanted them printed back-to-back, said he was opening a shop nearby, and had a crazy idea of selling cookies in Hollywood as if they were actors. He became so famous that 36 years later his first name is the answer to 17A.

mmorgan 7:48 AM  

Go ACME!!!

mac 8:06 AM  

I think I smiled the whole way through this puzzle! So many words and clues to like. Favorites: galumph and reune.

So Will's responsible for the questionable "onan"!

Matthew G. 8:48 AM  

DNF on a Monday!

I have never heard either ROUE or REUNE before. I had all the other squares filled in in near record time ... And just stared and stared at RO_E and RE_NE and thought I was surely missing something obvious. But no -- just two words I flat-out didn't know. Ouch.

Even after googling it, I'm not entirely sold on REUNE as a word.

Loved the theme, though!

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

If you had watched "Red River" on TCM last Saturday night, as did I for about the 15th time, ABILENE KA would have been much less of a WTF.

DBGeezer 9:09 AM  

Hooray for an Amazingly Cagy, Marvelous, Ecstatic puzzle.

John V 9:16 AM  

This was a fun start to a Monday, for at least two reasons. First was that the 7:26 had a BAR CAR this morning! It is VERY amusing to see horrified commuters at Rowayton and Darien, CT FLOW like cockroaches away from a morning barcar, lest they be seen GALUMPH-ing off at track 24 an hour later. Guess they knew the breakfast beers were on me.

Second bit of fun was the puzzle. I'm saying very easy here. Under five minutes on a bouncing bar car, juggling coffee, is just about as fast as I can write. Got the theme immediately in the NW, with FDA, LIMP and ODOR in place. One write-overs, had MUCH for MANY, which seemed to me to fit better with "Lots of", which sounds like a non-countable quantity.

Thanks, ACME, for the unfair advantage of actually having done research on micro-FICHE, so that was a gimme.

Liked PRETTYBOYFLOYD crossing LIMP, although he may not be so happy.

r.alphbunker 9:22 AM  

I worked yesterday on a crossword puzzle program. To test it I needed a puzzle that I could do quickly and I chose acme's June 2000 SANANDREASFAULT puzzle. I ended up filling it in four times.

So... I am always glad to see an acme puzzle but I had never laughed out loud before when I saw her byline. Given the preparation, I smoked this one!

jesser 9:27 AM  

Like @CoffeeLvr, I'm going to try to get back into the routine. I got waylayed by a cold that morphed into bronchitis that tilted toward pneumonia before the Zithromax kicked in. I'm starting to feel human again, but my voice remains decidedly frog-like. I'm terrified that one or more of the parrots will soon start imitating my decidedly unsexy hacking and snorting noises. We shall see.

Loved the puzzle. Only writeover was the BEQ-ish WISE ass before WISE GUY at 4D. Back in 8th grade, I had a shirt that I wore to gym class with the name Y. ZASS on the back. It took the coach f-o-r-e-v-e-r to figure it out. I got three or four swats that day. They were totally worth it.

Last night, I watched 'An American Werewolf in London' on TV. Several answers in the puzzle made me think of it: The boys GALUMPHing across the moors; the proximity of EIRE to England; the odd BREED of werewolf that David became; the LUSTY scenes between David and Nurse Price; the TOMB where Jack eventually rested; the JEERING in the bar when the drunk guy told the Alamo joke; the GOO in Jack's make-up. I love that movie. Especially during the holidays.

Great to be back. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Lotheer! I did not end up in the ER, but lo, the Doc in the Box was a welcome sight. -- jesser

jackj 9:30 AM  

Don't fret UGLYBETTY and PLAINJANE as being demeaning to women, just take note that Acme quietly slips in the ultimate rejoinder to your qualms, way off to the right, with NOMEN allowed.

This past weekend, the NY Times featured an ad with a photograph of America Ferrara. I have never seen the show "Ugly Betty" and don't have a clue as to its plot line but the picture of Ms. Ferrara belies any claim to the "UGLY" appellation. She is downright GORGEOUS! (Sorry, George).

The co-queen of the Mondays is back in fine form.

chefbea 9:30 AM  

thanks @Andrea for a great fun puzzle.

Love galumph. My grandmother use to always use that word.

Lindsay 9:37 AM  

In the late 1980s, I was helping clear out my grandmother's apartment after her death. I reached into the liquor cabinet and pulled out an unopened bottle of SLOE GIN that had been packaged in accordance with (paraphrasing) the War Rationing Act of World War I. World War One! So SLOE GIN always makes me smile. And it's not a partial except as clued.

Liked the puzzle too. Entertaining, and that's what counts.

fikink 9:59 AM  

Hello, Everyone. It is wonderful to see you all hanging out.
Andrea, this was a great puzzle to re-enter Rexville and REUNE with my buddies. FIL and I knocked this one out in no time and chortled over GALUMPH. A great word.
Thank you for this.

archaeoprof 10:16 AM  

Wonderful Monday. One writeover: sheer/STEEP.

Thanks, Andrea!

@ChefBea: back in college I had an English prof who used GALUMPH a lot. Whenever a student struggled with a question, he would say, "Well, we certainly are galumphing toward epiphany today, aren't we."

@fikink: welcome back!

archaeoprof 10:18 AM  

PS: thanks, @Rex, for the classic country video!

John V 10:31 AM  

FWIW, GALUMPH produces some pretty interesting anagrams. I will leave that as an exercise for the curious, as not all of them pass the breakfast test. You have been warned.

Stan 10:43 AM  

Lively and fun. GALUMPH alone worth the price of admission. A "Jabberwocky" word that has actually entered the language.

I kinda liked seeing the guys prettied up for a change -- a welcome break from the NYT puzzle world where men constantly OGLE and LEER at women who rate a TEN.

My assumption was that Kansas tied in better with Pretty Boy Floyd, who operated mainly there and in Oklahoma.

Now as through this world I ramble
I see lots of funny men
Some will rob you with a Six gun
And some with a fountain pen.

But as through your life you travel
As through your life you roam
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

-Woody Guthrie

Take that, Countrywide!

Two Ponies 11:00 AM  

Very nice Andrea!
Lots of good non-theme words, esp. Isotopes.
No idea who Gwen is but it didn't matter.
Good to have you back @ fikink.
@ jesser, Glad you're on the mend.

Masked and Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Good MonPuz. Nothin' oofy.


Fave clue: "Prepared to give a Jeopardy response".

Better clue for ONAN: "Suffix with dnoces."

Better clue for ASHOE: "Oxford sneeze".

thUmbsUp, Andrea darlin'. Decent U count, BTW.

baja 11:46 AM  

Loved this one! Pretty boy floyd brings back memories. When the kids were small my father brought us 2 budgies. we thought of the name floyd for one, as in pretty boy floyd, but were stuck for the other name. My fathers name was bob so we thought maybe bob for the other. However we soon realized that what goes with bob was shiska (as in shish kabob). so the two budgies became Bob and Shiska.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

A little confused.... In the blog it says ANAME is an answer to a partial in the puzzle. However, I am unable to find where that is in the grid.

Mel Ott 12:29 PM  

I thought @Rex was pretty hard on @Acme. I liked the theme even tho I usually dislike themes with proper names. Of course in this case the emphasis is on the adjectival nicknames. Fun puzzle - more interesting than most of our Monday fare.

I'm old enough to remember GORGEOUS GEORGE, but not PRETTY BOY FLOYD.

Lewis 12:43 PM  

Acme, your posts are always vibrant and filled with joie, and so was this puzzle, wonderful to STEEP oneself in.

At 25A I wanted to write in GALUMPH, but thought nah, that's not a word I'd find in a crossword, and I brightened up all over when I saw that indeed it was the answer.

Liked the shout out to Jeopardy, which many of us have been watching recently.

By the way, if you were playing Boggle, from square 50 you could make ACME.

quilter1 1:36 PM  

Dang! The blog ate my comment of this a.m. So, ditto the kudos. I liked this theme and the long downs.
Thanks, Andrea

(And my first comment was so cute :(

deerfencer 3:31 PM  

Excellent Andrea puzzle, too fun to pick at IMO.

You go girl!

Sparky 4:08 PM  

Nice start for the week. Thanks @ACME. One error, I always misspell YEAS yays the first time around. Friend used to say GALUMPH. Sloe Gin Fizz tastes horrible like getting the pith part of a pecan by accident.

Glad you are back @fikink. @mmorgan, where have you been? Good to hear you are mending @jesser.

sanfranman59 4:10 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:31, 6:50, 0.95, 32%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:39, 3:40, 1.00, 50%, Medium

rockin 4:43 PM  

easy puzzle! Fun and quick. Note to Rex: pretty and gorgeous are compliments, not complements.

skua76 4:58 PM  

Thanks Andrea...I needed that. After returning from my Thanksgiving travels I tackled several rough puzzles over the weekend (here and otherwise), but today's was positively relaxing and fun! In high school I read several books about the Chisholm Trail so I guess I knew about the ABILENE in Kansas first.
@john v, I drove through CT on I-95 last week and thought of you as I drove past all of those train stations.

Lulu12 5:14 PM  

Had fun, didn't mind the guy/girl thing since I figure the men need all the help they can get...
ROUE is one of my favorite words,IMAGINE one of my favorite songs,and well, I'se from South Carolina so SECEDED was a no-brainer. Good times!

Lewis 5:33 PM  

@rockin -- don't know if you were making a joke or serious, but Rex's use of "complement" absolutely fit, as he used it...

Dirigonzo 6:01 PM  

As a bit of syndication synchronicity, HTTP, clued exactly as it was today, appeared in the Lyn Lempel puzzle that is being solved by the syndication crowd (including me) today.

quilter1 6:26 PM  

@fikink, yes, welcome back. You were missed.

elyse - ACME's sister 8:27 PM  

Fun puzzle, Sis. Got it all in 10 minutes on the nose. May be slow for some of you more dedicated players, but I was pleased as punch - or sloe gin as it were.

John V 9:12 PM  

@skua76 When you're next in the 'hood, let's have tackle the puzzle on the New Haven. It doesn't get any better than that. Well, okay, I made that last bit up.

foodie 9:39 PM  

I can't believe it took me all day to get here! And on a day when Andrea serves us one of her masterful courses-- something that makes you lick your lips, whets the appetite and leaves you hoping for more.

I've had such a long and complicated day that I only managed to scan all the comments. I did take note of Andrea's placement of good looking women outside the theme :) But did anyone say anything about the LIMP WISEGUY?

Thank you, acme, for the fun!!

@fikink, welcome back! we missed you.

Anonymous 9:44 PM  

@Craig: loved the brief Famous Andy anecdote.

Anonymous 9:45 PM  

I was so wowed by it that I wrote "Andy" instead of "Amos"!

sanfranman59 2:08 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:34, 6:50, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:40, 0.99, 50%, Medium

william e emba 5:44 PM  

When I saw the ugly women versus the pretty men in the theme, I thought of one thing only: this must be a puzzle in honor of Sadie Hawkins Day! And indeed, any day in late November can count.

But no. ACME comes in and reveals the truth and ruins the puzzle for me. Well, I'll just pretend it was fantastic just the same. Great puzzle, great theme! Who needs dogma when you've got karma?

Dirigonzo 6:10 PM  

@william e emba - Your comment adds a level of relevance that even the constructor herself did not recognize - fantastic! I had forgotten all about Sadie Hawkins Day - and how much I enjoyed Al Capp's comic strip. Thank you for reminding me of those things and for adding to my appreciation of the puzzle. Dogma, Dog Patch, it's all good.

Jasmine Smith 5:35 AM  

I'm going to be honest with you here. Informational content usually puts me to sleep, and I snore quite loudly. Your content not only kept me awake, it intrigued me.

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

Spacecraft here. This puzzle may just contain the best and worst words for the whole year, in GALUMPH and REUNE, respectively. I like PRETTYBOYFLOYD crossing WISEGUY; ditto with JEERING PLAINJANE (well, aside from the pi aspect of it).
I wish the clue for 24a had been "First 2 words of a Tommy title."
Nice, fun puzzle. But please, let us never REUNE with that word again!

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