Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016, Dan Schoenholz


Today we celebrate eight comedians whose last names appear together two at a time as a PAIROFJOKERS. Martin Short, Jonathan Winters, Betty White, Bob Hope, Billy Crystal, Lucille Ball, Chris Rock, and John Candy. Funny (heh) that this should come up this week, because Frannie and I will be seeing Martin Short this coming weekend. If only his partner at that show, Steve Martin, could have been worked in somehow... And hey, does it strike you as odd that in each pair there is one living and one dead comedian? Hmmm... it does me. Especially since the pairs are also somewhat normal phrases. ROCKCANDY and CRYSTALBALL are perfectly normal, but WHITEHOPE doesn't do much for me. Does anyone actually use that term? And doesn't it seem slightly racist? SHORTWINTERS, too, seems a little arbitrary, but at least not aggressively so. So mezzo e mezzo on the ol' theme-o.

There's some nice longer Down answers, including the full MAUNALOA (8D: It last erupted in 1984) complete with a more interesting clue than usual. DESERTPLANT (10D: Cactus, for one) is a little odd, but DISCREDITED (23D: Damaged the reputation of) is solid.

I didn't particularly like running into all that three-letter crosswordese in the middle - RIA, IDI, DYE, RAJ, LICBOK, RIN... and I'm a little tired of seeing ONPOT (34A: Baked or stoned) in these puzzles, but I guess that's what we get for the dense theme and somewhat chunky SW and NE corners.

I liked 1A today, PAID (1A: Like the best kind of vacation). I'll give it a B+. The word is quite plain, but it's clued very nicely.

And a few more things, ONEAL (46A: Onetime center of Los Angeles) totally tricked me. I gave up on the clue immediately, thinking "What do I know about that city? Nothing!," totally forgetting about Shaquille. And DOGSIT (4D: Doesn't give one's full effort), with the "sh" of SHORT... so close by... it looks a little startling if you just quickly glance up into that quadrant, and kinda throws off the FENGSHUI of the puzzle. :)

I didn't love it, but I do enjoy comedians, and there were some nice entries.

- Horace


  1. 5:20 (FWOE)
    I put Mr. Bryson's name in as PEeBO and didn't recognize the error until too late. I thought this puzzle was fine. Not outstanding, but fine. I didn't get the theme at all until I filled in the revealer, so that's good. I like a revealer that is necessary. Those are some very long answers going down! Eleven letters... I don't know that I've ever seen non-theme answers that long.

  2. 12:20
    I didn't get the theme until I finished and looked back, either. In fact, I couldn't figure out who White was! Odd, I agree, that there's one living and one dead in each pair. Anyway, SHORTWINTERS, as Sue and I just found out, are not climate features of equatorial countries. Winters in the tropics are, of course, technically the same length of time as anyone else's winter, but natives of those countries (based on our experience) don't even acknowledge winter; they have rainy season and dry season. Sue and I thought that we were leaving northern hemisphere winter and entering southern hemisphere summer (a loophole to more summer), but when we mentioned this to the Balinese natives, they were perplexed since they never think in those terms. Anyway, I enjoyed the puzzle; it seemed about right for a Tuesday, threes and all. DESERTPLANT is, indeed, terrible, but 55D Road hazard? (RAGE), even with the question mark, is great, as is the clue for IDO (61D Engagement-ending words. And who doesn't love a DEN of iniquity?

  3. 11:19
    I agree with WHITEHOPE is a little off, but only because it doesn't include the first word "Great." GreatWHITEHOPE is a nickname that's been used for years, usually referencing white boxers in what became a predominately African-American sport (so, yes, from a more racist era). But "great white hope" was also used from time to time to describe the great Larry Bird. For that reason, I can't hate it.