Evian competitor / TUE 1-20-15 / Violinist Leopold / Guernsey chew / English princess who competed in 1976 Olympics / Like some rich soil / Fabric once described as comfort in action

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Constructor: Susan Gelfand

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: COMIC RELIEF (60A: What the starts of 18-, 24-, 37- and 52-Across can provide?) — four familiar two-word phrases where the first word is the last name of a famous COMIC:

Theme answers:
  • CAESAR SALAD (18A: Dish with croutons and Paremsan cheese) (Sid Caesar)
  • MURPHY BED (24A: Pull-down sleeper) (Eddie Murphy)
  • CRYSTAL GEYSER (37A: Evian competitor) (Billy Crystal)
  • ROCK OPERA (52A: "Tommy," for one) (Chris Rock)
Word of the Day: ROWENA (15A: Ivanhoe's love) —
Rowena /rˈnə/ was the daughter of the Anglo-Saxon chief Hengist and a wife of VortigernKing of the Britons, in British legend. Presented as a beautiful femme fatale, she won her people the Kingdom of Kent through her treacherous seduction of Vortigern. Contemporary sources do not mention Rowena, which leads modern historians to regard her as fictitious. […] She was a titular character in William Henry Ireland's play Vortigern and Rowena (1796). Her name was later borrowed by Sir Walter Scott for the beautiful Saxon heroine in his historical novel Ivanhoe (1819), after which it came into use as an English given name(Presumably due to the original legendary Rowena's character flaws, her name was not commonly used until after the appearance of Ivanhoe.) (wikipedia)
• • •

Yesterday, the theme carried the day, in spite of the fill. Today, the theme comes in quite wounded and there's nothing the fill (better, but just average) can do to save it. There are several little issues with the theme, but one big issue—the revealer. COMIC RELIEF makes zero sense as the revealer. The COMIC part, I get. But why RELIEF? It's a totally extraneous, completely non-descriptive element … a bed can provide relief, I guess, but a salad … I dunno, maybe … an opera … pushing it … and geyser, no way. Nobody ever got relieved by a geyser. So RELIEF is a meaningless, throwaway word—not cool in a revealer. May as well have been COMIC TIMING for all the thematic sense that phrase makes. Billy Crystal was part of the '80s comedy benefit program "COMIC RELIEF" … but the other guys weren't. Were they? I thought that was Crystal, Williams, and Goldberg. Also, one of these four is not like the others (again). Murphy, Crystal, and Rock were all stand-ups (Rock is the only one who still is, I think). Caesar, however (per wikipedia) "was considered a "sketch comic" and actor, as opposed to a stand-up comedian." Now, since all the other comics were at some point on SNL (again, not Caesar, another way he's not like the others; see also "dead"), they were all "sketch comics," in a way, so maybe there is consistency there. Like I said, the main issue is RELIEF, which just … hangs there. OPENING ACT … well, that wouldn't have worked either, since it wouldn't have captured the comedy part very well, but at least it would've had some relationship to where we find the words-that-are-also-comics. The aptness of revealers is Really important to the overall quality of a puzzle (not all puzzles have revealers, but if they do, they must be spot-on).

Puzzle also suffers from a touch of the datedness. When Rock (older than middle-aged me) is the young guy in your set of comics, you know your comic sensibility crystalized (!) at least two decades (probably more) ago. Opening words of the themers = an arbitrary, not-terribly-coherent list of (broadly-defined) "comics." And the fill, while nice in a few places (the NW corner, due N and due S, the CAMEROON/RASHOMON pair), is overall only OK, and perhaps has a bit too much screechiness in the short stuff (BAAS ENE ETES AUER MES ELD). If the theme had landed, I'd've noticed this stuff less. But it didn't. So I did.


If you wanted to do a modern stand-up theme, here are some more options (besides ROCK):
I'm sure there's more.

Did you hear the one about the IRONER and the ANALYZER? No, of course you didn't.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Danp 7:43 AM  

Watts, Cook, Burr, Norton?! Who are these people?

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

Hey, Rex's week of begging for money is over so he's back to being a dick! "Comic relief" is a common phrase and perfectly appropriate as the revealer.

L 7:49 AM  

I agree with Rex. The theme was weak. Puzzle was otherwise fine. Why do I feel like we just saw MURPHY BED in a very recent puzzle? Hey, what are the odds?

joho 7:58 AM  

The clue for the reveal clearly describes that the first word, the COMIC I.e. CAESAR, MURPHY, CRYSTAL and ROCK provides RELIEF. Seems to me you're over thinking it, @Rex. But I suppose if want to do that, a SALAD relieves hunger, a good BED a bad back, a GEYSER slakes thirst and an OPERA might soothe the soul.

I enjoyed this one. Thank you, Susan! I also am now wondering if this is a week of women from Will.

john 8:14 AM  

CRYSTAL GEYSER was a WOE, so this played challenging for a Tuesday for me. I look at the number of words used less than ten times versus the number used over 100 times. This puzzle scored very low despite having lots of scrabbley letters. I'm not sure what to make of that. Thanks Ms Gelfand.

Jim Q 8:14 AM  

Coincidence that I sprayed some CK ONE on today before work (which I rarely do)? I think not!

Just saw Louis CK at Madison Square Garden. He just added a third show. Highly recommend. Tix available. Cheap.

Susan McConnell 8:15 AM  

I liked this one a lot...never noticed Rex's nits.

Good for Rex for knowing the names of some young comics, though. I'm sure we are all impressed..

Moly Shu 8:16 AM  

My main problem with the theme is Billy CRYSTAL. The guy wasn't funny 20 years ago, nor is he today. Comic? More like pathetic. Guess that's my personal taste creeping in. Did like CAMEROON and MALAMUTE. If you haven't seen RASHOMON, I highly recommend watching it. Damn personal taste creeping in again. Sorry.

NCA President 8:21 AM  

@Joho...interesting theory, and I might agree, except that OPERA is just as much an outlier as CAESAR is. Physical relief, as you point out with food, a good bed, and water, is one thing...but OPERA really doesn't relieve anything as universally as the others do.

I didn't personally care for 27A..."Daytime ___" or IRONER. The former teeters on gratuitous vagueness while the latter is just trying too hard. I did like DWEEB.

Interesting fact: Jesus Christ Superstar is widely considered the first Rock Opera because it was staged first even though The Who released their concept album before the JCS concept album. Tommy wasn't staged until the 90s. Hair predated both JCS and Tommy, but it's considered a musical about rock music and the culture and whose music was more pop and not specifically rock and roll.

Puzzle was okay for me...

chefbea 8:23 AM  

Found this pretty easy..Love caesar salad and loved syd Caesar. Thought phial would be WOD...never heard of it. Wanted vial. Are they the same thing??? Guess I'll have to google it.

Rhino 8:36 AM  

I agree with Rex about the dated comics, but I'd argue it is a Tuesday and those are four very well known names. His list of names if certainly younger and hipper (although Bill Burr is probably close to Chris Rock in age and Dane Cook peaked almost a decade ago), they are not household names like the ones in the puzzle.

I liked the revealer. I could not figure out what the theme entries had in commons, so the revealer made me go, "Oh!" Which, I'd argue, is all I need on a Tuesday.

Charles Flaster 8:37 AM  

Easy and loved theme with revealer.
Maybe Rex would like comic "genius " better .Love all four of them.
Billy Crystal's "700 Sundays" is a classic IMO.
PHIAL was sussed with downs.
Thanks SG.

mac 8:38 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle more than Rex did, but I have to agree with some of his points. The relief part didn't work for me.

Funny write-up, whether you agree with the criticisms or not.

retired_chemist 8:39 AM  

Medium. Agree that RELIEF in the reveal isn't a good connector. As usual, less upset than Rex at the fill.

Any other chemists ever in their career us the term PHIAL"? Thought not. RETORT is another (unclaimed) shout-out to chemical and alchemical history.

Phallic subtheme with DONG and SALAMI.

TARP saddens me due to the recent death of Roy TARPley, AKA "TARP," who could have been one of the best ever in the NBA had substance abuse not done him in.

Thanks, Ms.Gelfand.

Roo Monster 8:39 AM  

Hey All !
Scooting right along until I hit the SW corner. Not up on (pretty much anything) composers and such, didn't know LEHAR, or RASHOMON. And for some reason, couldn't get ROBOT or ABIDE. So after staring at the blank squares for quite some time, broke down and hit Reveal on ROBOT. Oh well, at least got the rest after that! :-)

Thought I knew Baseballs Speaker, apparently not. MOC is new. Heard of Doc Martins, but not MOC. Some clunkier fill as Rex points out.

Overall, did like the puz, but wasn't a fun time like usual. Everyone has off days, I guess. (Me, not the constructor) :-)


Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Yeah, "When Harry Met Sally" is only one of the most beloved films of the past 50 years, but If @ Molly says Crystal's no good, I guess he must suck. The arrogance on this board never ceases to amaze me.

Bird 8:41 AM  

A difficult unenjoyable Tuesday puzzle. There is lab equipment that are called ANALYZERs but the folks who work in those labs are called ANALYSTs. IRONER?! 15A crossing 7D was unkown to me and never heard of 38D. Theme was fine to me.

Z 8:44 AM  

I'm thinking CNN, Fox, and MSNBC use ANALYsts while ESPN, Fox1 Sports, and NBCSN use ANALYZERs. Or maybe not. IRONyst anyone?

I came up with Sid and Chris immediately, but had to take a few seconds to come up with Eddie and Billy. I have to agree with the pretty dated set and I grew up watching SNL before Eddie was on.

@DanP - Bill Burr was the token white male on the debut episode of The Nightly Show last night. Pretty funny look on Cory Booker's face when the white guy says that only violence ever seems to beget social change. I'm pretty sure the "Keeping it 100" segment is destined to become a cultural buzzword.

Tuesday. We've seen much worse.

jberg 9:09 AM  

I liked the revealer at the time -- they're comics, so they provide COMIC RELIEF. But if you think about it more (or at least if I do), comic relief is really an interlude in a tragedy -- that's the 'relief' part. None of these guys did that, as far as I know.

Have no idea what Daytime EMMYS are -- are they different from other Emmys? or is that a category like 'best actor?'

And isn't an old ELI an alum, rather than Yale itself?

But my only real problems were a) CRYSTAL spring befoe GEYSER (Is that really a brand? Geyser water is pretty much undrinkable), and b) CAMEROuN before CAMEROON. Both easily fixed.

TRIS Speaker was older than any of those comedians, but somehow that seems more OK in baseball. And ROWENA was older than that, of course. As for PHIALs, they're for magic potions.

George Barany 9:10 AM  

A few thoughts as I take a break from last-moment preparations for the first day of class at the U of M. First, I would like to thank @Rex for his point-of-view on today's puzzle and for sharing the Jackie Mason clip (was he proposing something like MASON_JARS as a theme entry?). It reminds me of the kindergartener who comes home, all excited about getting cast as "Jewish husband" in the school play. "Go back to your teacher and ask for a speaking role," his father commands.

Moving on, I concur with @retired_chemist that practicing chemists would never say PHIAL, only vial. To refresh the recollection of @NCA President, The Who played "Tommy" at the Metropolitan Opera House while I still lived in NYC; yep, verified by this youtube clip date June 1970.

Those lucky enough to subscribe to Liz Gorski's Crossword Nation are in for a timely treat with "Jest for Fun" that she sent out last night (it is already covered at the other blog). Without giving away the theme or any aspects of its witty execution, I point out that it avoids the trap of relying on the names of public figures.

I'm a pretty big fan of Billy CRYSTAL, yet there he was trending near the top of this morning's facebook feed, quoted in a manner that he probably wishes he could have back ... and this from one of TV's first-ever gay characters more than 40 years ago.

Moly Shu 9:10 AM  

@Anon8:40, first, the name is Moly, not Molly. If I'm being accused of something, at least give me proper credit. Second, because I don't find Billy CRYSTAL funny, somehow makes me arrogant? I'll take that as a compliment, thank you.

Dan 9:11 AM  

Billy C is a genius. Google it.

Miles Silverberg 9:16 AM  

@L - Puzzle seemed to me a replay of Sunday's diagramless. First words of theme answers revealer; some of the same answers - MURPHY (BED/BROWN); ASTRO/ASTROS; LEHAR in both - at least this time I didn't start with Liszt; MOC. Not quite making the cut - SALAMI/SALOME.

Agree with most of Rex's comments on this one.

BillyC 9:18 AM  

Why, thanks Dan. ;-)

dk 9:24 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 mOONs)

Got the theme and the reveal made sense to me. IRONER has elicited groans in the past and now it has a friend in ANALYZER. That said I may run an add in the paper offering my services as The ANALYZER. It might read:

Got a Problem
Odds Against You

I think my 1983 MBZ 300D is the perfect car. Now where is that slide rule….

Z 9:24 AM  

@George Barany - The Billy Crystal thing reminded me of Slate's Year of Outrage article. Why people insist on being angry about people not agreeing with us is amazing to me. Heaven forbid that someone not love my favorite comedian. Just one ANALYZER's opinion, of course. I wouldn't want to seem arrogant.

Elle54 9:26 AM  

What? Hasn't Rex ever heard the common phrase "comic relief?" sometimes I can't tell if he's joking.
Hope you all have a day with some comic relief provided!

Whirred Whacks 9:41 AM  

My favorite newspaper headline of the past month:

"Rock's Papers Scissor Union"

AliasZ 9:49 AM  

After NOTER yesterday, we have IRONER and ANALYZER today. The spectrum ANALYZER is an indispensable tool for the measurement of all components that make up sound and light waves. IRONER, not so much. What's next? The person who sews is a sewer? "-ER of convenience" or EROC has become as invasive as plurals of convenience (POC), of which we also have a few today: ADOS, ETES, BAAS, EMS, TRIS (prefixes meaning three), SIS (Spanish assents) and MES (egoisticals).

Good to see LEHÁR abutting ROCK OPERA. Didn't he also compose "The Land of Similes"? Sounds like an operetta full of metaphors.

There was plenty to like in this puzzle, including a few stand-up kind of guys to provide COMIC RELIEF, Billy CRYSTAL being the least funny of them. I came up with a few of my own:

FOROROMANO (Center of a bygone empire)
NEWHARTFORDCT (Town in Litchfield County)
SILVERMANTLE (Fur of a melanistic fox)
FOXXRAY (Wildlife rehab center request)
GOWESTYOUNGMAN [Double whammy!]
RIVERSTYX (Waterway of Hades)
WHOLETCARLIN? (Question heard at a Reiner family surprise party)
SAGETEAANYONE? (Question heard at herb convention)

As for Schubert, let's give a listen to his String Quintet in CMAJ, D.956.

Happy Tuesday!

Andy 9:51 AM  

Weirdness with the iPad app for this puzzle.......

When I went to do the puzzle last night, the box for both the puzzle and the mini said it was already solved. On further investigation, the grids had been filled in and on the calendar the completion had been registered with the old blue icon and no credit had been give for the streak (yellow icon)

Not knowing what was up I cleared the puzzles and filled them in on my own. Once filled I was given the streak credit on the calendar, however a notice came up and said that the first fill time was the only one allowed for setting the new average time feature.

I am the only person with access to my iPad after the puzzle was available at 7pm . I hadn't used the app until my normal time and I certainly hadn't filled the puzzle beforehand.

App users, this is all a little creepy. We better all keep an eye out and change our passwords, cuz it looks like there is a security breech

Numinous 10:17 AM  

Medium? I did this, according to my iPad app, over seven minutes than my average for Tuesday. When I got to the revealER, I thought to myself, I thought, Aha! Okaaaayyyyyyy‽ I remembered all the comedians and decided that if anything they provided relief from the stress of solving such an easy puzzle. Has @Rex contracted Casco-itis (inflamation of the over-thinking organ)‽ Apparently this wasn't as easy as I thought.

@Darren V, MOCs is a shortening of MOCcasin the which I wear daily (of the Ugg variety).

I might have enjoyed this puzzle more but it was done too quickly. The only OOPS I had was trying to write drone for ROBOT. Now I think on it, golem might have been a better answer.

Thinking that, if there are no other takers, it might be fun to try constructing with @Nancy, If she's interested, she can find my email on my profile page. BTW, I have a fondness for cryptics too.

Numinous 10:18 AM  

Egad, that should read ". . . over seven minutes FASTER, than my average for a Tuesday.

quilter1 10:19 AM  

I rate it as easy. I'm in a hurry today and zipped through. Sid CAESAR was always a favorite. His Show of Shows was a must see every week. COMIC RELIEF is being given the chance to laugh in spite of it all so for me it makes sense.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Molly you didn't say "I don't care for Bliiy Crystal." You called him "pathetic," which is inflammatory, arrogant, and empirically incorrect. You are apparently too stupid to know the difference between stating an opinion and being a cocky prick.

Mohair Sam 10:34 AM  

The revealer was fine, just fine. Talk about pick, pick, pick Rex (and many of you). Glad Rex knows lots of young comics - but this is a Tuesday and calls for comics with widely known names. Look at Rex's rules for naticks, any random 2 to 4 of Rex's list would form naticks-in-waiting for most solvers here.

Liked the puzzle a lot even though it played challenging (for a Tuesday) here. Due mostly to the unknown to us CRYSTALGEYSER and the "archaic" and "obsolete" (per different dictionaries) PHIAL (what ever happened to var. Will?) - but the crosses were all fair, so can't complain too much.

Poor old @Moly Shu (that arrogant low life). I guess Billy Crystal (the outed homophobe) is sacred here. I've always loved his comedy but will never forgive him for ruining "The Crying Game" by giving the secret away at the Academy Awards. And hate him for ruining my favorite song in "The Phantom of the Opera" by telling us it sounded like "School Days, School Days". He's right of course, but still unforgivable. I've got your back on this one Moly, don't let the bastards get you down.

@George Barany - had never heard the Jewish husband joke - thanks for a great lol on what had been a lousy morning - true comic relief.

LeahK 11:01 AM  

Can anyone explain 57 down: TRIS? No idea what that means.

Tita 11:05 AM  

Wow - hallelujah for the comment relief today.
And delighted to see the continuance of "pick on random commentor day".
Nancy - you must be breathing a sigh of relief...

I must say that the added twisting of the knife with the intentional misspelling of Moly, after it was pointed out, is truly ingenious.

Need I mention the irony - how Moly repeatedly called out how this was mere personal opinion?

Wow - can't wait to see who it will be tomorrow.

Puzzle? Oh - it was ok. Liked BAAS next to CUD. Reminds me of the joke...3 farm animals walk into a bar...
Oh - never mind.

CAMEROON's name derives from the Portuguese for shrimp - camarões - apparently they found lots of the critters in its waters.

Thanks Ms. Gelfand.

Danield 11:07 AM  

A difficult Tuesday puzzle for me. Was okay with the theme. Never really got in sync with Ms. Gelfand. Slogged through but erred on rashomon-lahar cross.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

LeahK @ 1101: TRIS Speaker was a baseball player of some renowned.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

I did the puzzle on my ipad and 12 minutes later my bank accounts were all cleared out and my house was repossessed. Do be careful, people.

RAD2626 11:11 AM  

While I totally agree with @Elle54 that "comic relief" is a commonly used phrase, I am struck by the number of posters who agree with Rex and apparently are not familiar with it.

I thought this was easier than yesterday's puzzle and using comic icon Sid CAESAR is no hoarier than Paula ZAHN or Cheryl TIEGS.

Joseph Michael 11:18 AM  

Rex's critique today is so over thought that it actually made me laugh. So thanks, Rex, for an amusing start to the day.

The theme works perfectly fine since "comic relief" is a common expression and refers only to the "start" of each theme answer, not the entire answer.

The comics are all well known and span a range of years, from Sid Caesar to Chris Rock, so I don't have a problem with that either.

While solving, I had a nice aha moment when I finally realized what the theme was. Good job, Ms. Gelfand.

mathguy 11:23 AM  

Love all four of the comedians in the puzzle but Sid Caesar sticks out because he didn't write his material. Jackie Mason would have been a better choice. I was playing Rex's clip and The Closer sitting a few feet away was laughing. She couldn't hear exactly what Mason was saying but was laughing at his delivery.

We saw Top Five a couple of weeks ago. Chris Rock wrote it, directed it, and starred in it. A very high quality film. Not for everyone because of the blatant (but hilarious) sexual content. By the way, for the the rap fans here, Top Five refers to Rock's habit in the movie of asking people to name their top five rappers.

Moly Shu 11:47 AM  

@Anon10:30, once again, it's Moly, not Molly. Please try to remember this for future reference. I'm sure my stupidity, arrogance, cockiness, and being a prick, will manifest themselves here in the future. Thanks for noticing. Oh, and thanks for making me realize Billy CRYSTAL is a comic genius. I've totally seen the light.

Thank you, @Mohair (even though you did call me an arrogant low-life) no offense taken. Appreciate the back-up.

Now I'm done.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Nobody said he was a comic genius. People are merely pointing out that dismissing a clearly successful and beloved comedian as "pathetic" reaveals more about how pathetic you are than anything about Crystal.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

You think Crystal is pathetic?! (Interrobang!) How 'bout Franz Lehar? Operettas my ass. Write a real opera, wouldja?

Z 12:22 PM  

@Moly Shu - In the Words of Other Members of the Commentariat, "Don't feed the trolls."

Anonymous 12:25 PM  


Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Q: What are people who keep saying "don't feed the trolls" doing?
A: Feeding the trolls!

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Why anyone would care about others' opinions when the New England Patriots cheat at every oppurtunity they can is beyond me. The NFL needs to take away the teams wins and whatnot like what happened to Penn State.

It's easy to win when you cheat.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Yeah they should just cancel the superbowl! Damned Boston liberals and their cheating!

Ellen S 12:39 PM  

@Z, was Jonathan Swift an Ironyst

Fun puzzle, no EELS.

MDMA 12:44 PM  


If you have a New York Times account, someone could have solved the puzzle on the website using your credentials, and it would probably be reflected in the app. I personally don't have an account, just the app itself.

I upgraded the app to the latest version, but it doesn't seem to have this "average time feature" people are talking about. Where is this information displayed?

No. 1 Fan 12:54 PM  

@AliasZ: Dang, you're good!

Anoa Bob 12:54 PM  

Taking a verb and nounifying it by adding an "ER" is one of several techniques available to the constructor to make it easier to fill the grid. Glad to see a few NOTERs of today's examples, IRONER & ANALYZER.

There are other ways to up the letter count---POC being the most frequent---that are discussed at Letter Count Manipulation (LCM).

Benko 1:12 PM  

@Rhino: I thought the same thing about Rex's list of "younger" alternatives. Jim Norton has been around forever. Reggie Watts is the only one on the list who can be considered fairly new to comedy, as he was a musician for most of his adult life first.
@Moly: I never thought Billy Crystal was funny either, though he did a couple of good things (like "Soap"). But it seemed to me he usually played the less funny characters in comedies. Heck, he even made Meg Ryan seem funnier by comparison.

jae 1:18 PM  

Easy-medium for me. What @joho said about the theme and over thinking it. Nice long downs in the SW. Didn't read the clue for 23a carefully so had Petri before PHIAL which still looks odd. Theme was fine by me and the dreck count was low except of course for the ERs...liked it.

NCA President 2:06 PM  

@George Barany: performed and staged are two different things.

GILL I. 2:17 PM  

Did you know that DWEEB stand for "dick with eyebrows"?
I thought this just fine for the dreaded Tuesday.
I, too, wasn't that thrilled with the revealer and kept looking for the ends of the COMICs to make further sense. Even so, SG gave us some lively words that I bet the @Leapster can fit into her COMIC RELIEF routine.

Carola 2:25 PM  

Thought it was cute. For me, RELIEF was delightful as part of the reveal (as in, "I got it!"). It didn't occur to me that the COMICs were OLD HAT, dating form the days of ELD; I wouldn't have known any of those that @Rex listed.

Other pleasures: the musical mix of BEL canto, the CHA cha, ROCK OPERA, LEHAR, CHE and EVA, punctuated by a few BAAS (which are also part of the farm team with HOGS and CUD). Loved PHIAL, which, like @jberg, I associate with potions, perhaps concocted by an EVIL sorcerer. Fun puzzle.

@joho - My first thought was: wow, women two days in a row. Too bad that seems ODD!

Zeke 3:37 PM  

People, everyone knows the phrase "Comic Relief". The issue is, what does the Relief part have to do with the puzzle, and the answer is not a damned thing. Look at yesterdays puzzle's reveal - Snow Capped. The capped played an integral role here, whereas relief played no role. If perhaps each of the theme comics actually appeared in any of the 20+ Comic Relief shows, then maybe it would mean something. But, of course, not all of them participated in Comic Relief, so the relief part was nothing. If anything, it offered a false hope for consistency.

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Did anyone notice that in the print version immediately to the right of 28-D ("Bro's sibling") there is an article entitled "Showcasing a Brother, and Giving a Sister Her Due"? See what you miss if you don't solve on paper?

Colby 3:54 PM  

Challenging for a Tuesday.

On Borrowed Time 4:07 PM  

Sorry Rex but I have to disagree with your substitute answers. If i'm a crossword editor and a constructer submits a puzzle claiming that Dane COOK is a comedian, I send that puzzle back with a big red stamp saying "Factually Incorrect". (Now Peter Cook maybe...).

Of course Dane COOK is quite famous and successful so clearly my opinion on his comedic prowess is, well, laughable. I know nothing. My apologies.

Steve J 4:59 PM  

Thought this was fine. I see Rex's point on the relief aspect, but it didn't bother me. I appreciate themes like this when they use words and phrases that are actually in common use and don't feel unforced, and this fit the bill. (The same cannot be said for some of the fill, especially the unforced aspect.)

@Moly: Surely you know that popularity is the ultimate mark of quality (and appeal to popularity isn't remotely a basic logical fallacy). I suppose you also think that McDonald's doesn't make the best burger in the world and that Kenny G isn't the best jazz musician in history.

wreck 5:04 PM  

This was faster than Monday for me. I didn't see the theme until the "revealer", so I guess the relief part didn't bother me. I thought the fill was above average for a Tuesday.

Leapfinger 5:07 PM  

How do I spell R-E-L-I-E-F? Apparently, not the way Ms. Gelfand does, as it took me quite a while to unravel the reveal, even though most of the COMICs are as OLD HAT as I. @ChasFlaster's idea of GENIUS is most ingenious; overall, I agree with @mac. While admitting that I haven't had equal exposure to the four entertainers, to me it's clear-cut that CRYSTAL and CAESAR fall in the COMIC GENIUS category. Too bad we didn't also have Imogene COCACOLA (or COCALEAF?) and Jackie MASONBOARD. To get Really OLD HAT, Shecky GREENPAINT...?

Agree that "700 Sundays" is worth reading.

Ah, so you can nounify a verb by adding "er", and verbify a noun by gerunding it. Would it affect anyone adverbly to make CUD CUDdly?

Enjoyed the solve in spite of some shruggery over the ANALYZER (yup for spectrophotometry), the folderol of IRONER and the Alchemical Phial. On the plus side, DWEEB is an intrinsically comic word, and whenever there's a MURPHYBED around, hilarity is bound to ensue.

Bonus points:
* Backstory on ROWENA
* RASHOMON, which just recently appeared in a blog comment, so -- synchronicity strikes again!
* The timeliness of YARDS gained, running on ASTRO MURPH
* MALAMUTE because of Albert, our first rescue; his bite was worse than his bark at first, but love finally found a way
* The nod to EVIL DONG; ODD, but rang a bell

Not bad at all, for a Tuesday.

Z 5:45 PM  

@Ellen S - Swift may be the best Ironyst but this crew is in full Sarcasmyst (or is it Snarkyst‽) form today, snow-capped-off by EVIL DONG (good looking out @Leapy).

Z 5:59 PM  

Speaking of Ironyst, who knew?

evil doug 6:04 PM  

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no Evil dong: for that meatloaf art with me; that huge rod and firm staff, they comfort me."

... Oh, yeah, they comfort, *big* time, baby....

Evil Dong
Searching for a new photo....

Tita 6:14 PM  

@Z - thanks for that link - most interesting! I would have guessed that the search for richer punctuation was Twitter/SMS/Skype-driven. I am delighted to learn how wrong I am.
Who knows - might there be hieroglyphics, or perhaps cuneiform, to denote sarcasm, irony, etc.?

Anonymerit 7:08 PM  


I certainly am familiar with the phrase COMIC RELIEF, yet agree with Rex to the extent that I don't see the relevance of the word RELIEF in this instance. Without contortions sufficient to cause torticollis of some significance.

As noted by JohnChild, a reveal of COMIC GENIUS would have been a much better choice.

Teedmn 7:10 PM  

I'll admit to a tiny "humph" at the revealer (not IRONER punctuation there) but it didn't bother me so much. And I'm in the @Moly Shu school of thought on the Billy CRYSTAL issue. The only thing I've been able to watch him in is "Princess Bride". Just a personal opinion.

I did this a bit slow for Tuesday with a bunch of overwrites:

I wanted "new" for ELD so a quick glance at the clue for 42A made it Cow. Pretty soon I had CRYSTleGElser (because I had lOse instead of YOYO). But YARDS fixed that and made 37A sussable since I didn't recognize the product name.

Thanks, Ms. Gelfand, for a nice Tuesday!

Teedmn 7:10 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leapfinger 7:40 PM  

@ Gilly - Dang, gurrul, if I'd known you were counting on me I'd have tried to enlarge on that EVIL DONG thingy. Loved your definition of DWEEB, btw -- the Dick with eyebrows would be RMN, bien sur?

@Carola linked the BAAS with HOGS, but I linked BAAS with Boers. Different wheelhouse, maybe.
otoh, what @Zeke said.

LOAMY to askew a question: Just as RETORT implies a TORT, doesn't EXODUS imply an ODUS? I need some input here, as I'm not Redding anything helpful in that regard.

Curious row: ANNE SAN ELY ELI

DONG CAINE schoen for putting up with this frippery.

ROCK On to Wednesday.

Elephant's Child 8:53 PM  

Hickory MOCkery MOC,
LEHAR ran over Le Coq
d'Or, but the REMski-Korsakov
Trumped both The Lark and the Tauber-Dove;
Merry Widow was freed of the loq!

More Old Hats: From 'Zigeunerliebe', Ljuba Welitsch


'A szivem szakad hogy nem magyarul enekli'

GILL I. 11:44 PM  

I want to drink some of that MOCkery MOC with you!....So glad I don't have a mouth full of wine!

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

You’ll have to forgive me for being a younger puzzle solver. I did not enjoy this at all. The bottom-left corner and revealer were all mysteries to me. When I finally saw the answer, the theme still made no sense to me. Eddie Murphy didn’t even come to mind and he’s the most familiar to me. ROCK and CRYSTAL were too generic that I couldn’t come up with a name for either. CAESAR is also so commonplace in puzzles that I couldn’t relate it to anything. I agree with your take on -RELIEF. It’s totally unnecessary.

-J. W. Norwich

Shelby Glidden 6:20 PM  

there's no comic relief in the analyzer

Anonymous 1:14 AM  

I AM Dora Sandy i want to give thanks and i will always give thanks to drokojie who brought back my divorce husband that has left me for 6years within 48hours,i have said about this last week but i promised to always tell people about this every weekend so that those that did not read about it last week will read about it this week,i have been looking for how to get pregnant and how to get my divorce husband back to my life because i love him with the whole of my heart,i could not replace him with any body,one day i was watching my television when i saw a lady giving thanks to priest ina and telling the world how he helped her i was so shocked i could not believe it because i never taught that there are powers that can bring back lost marriage,then that was how i decided to contact him too because i do really need my divorce husband back,when i contacted him i told him everything and he told me not to worry that my divorce husband will surely be back to me, within 48hours at first i could not believe because i was thinking how could somebody that has gone for 6years come back within 48 hours,so then i decided to watch and see,unbelievable within the next 48hours i got a call from unknown number so i pick the call the next thing i could hear was my husbands voice he was pleading and begging me on the phone that i should forgive him that i should forget all that have happened that he did not know what came over him,he promised not to leave for any reason,that he was really sorry for what he did,i was so surprised because i never believed that this could happen,so that was how i accepted his apology and the next morning he came back home to meet me and still pleading for me to forgive him i told him that everything is okay that i have forgiven him,that was how we started again and he has Chang,i promised to say this testimony in radio station,commenting this testimony that now am pregnant,but still okay before this month runs out i promise to say this in radio station and i will sir, thank you very much.World please am begging you people to try and help me thank this man for me,or if you need his help here is his email address drokojiehealinghome@gmail.com

Jones Benady 10:05 PM  

My Name is Jones Benady from Australia..I never believed in Love Spells or Magics until I met this special spell caster DR ODIMILI when i went to Africa to Execute some business..He is really powerful..My wife divorce me with no reason for almost 4 years and i tried all i could to have her back cos i really love her so much but all my effort did not work out.. we met at our early age at the college and we both have feelings for each other and we got married happily for 5 years with no kid and she woke up one morning and she told me she’s going on a divorce..i thought it was a joke and when she came back from work she tender to me a divorce letter and she packed all her loads from my house..i ran mad and i tried all i could to have her back but all did not work out..i was lonely for almost 4 years…So when i told the spell caster what happened he said he will help me and he asked for her full name and her picture..i gave him that..At first i was skeptical but i gave it a try cos h ave tried so many spell casters and there is no solution…so when he finished with the readings,he got back to me that she’s with a man and that man is the reason why she left me…The spell caster said he will help me with a spell that will surely bring her back.but i never believe all this…he told me i will see a positive result within 3 days..3 days later,she called me herself and came to me apologizing and she told me she will come back to me..I cant believe this,it was like a dream cos i never believe this will work out after trying many spell casters and there is no solution..DR ODIMILI The spell caster is so powerful and after that he helped me with a pregnancy spell and my wife got pregnant a month later..we are now happy been together again and with lovely kid..This spell caster has really changed my life and i will forever thankful to him..he has helped many friends too with similar problem too and they are happy and thankful to him..This man is indeed the most powerful spell caster have ever experienced in life..Am Posting this to the Forum in case there is anyone who has similar problem and still looking for a way out........ CONTACT THIS POWERFUL SPELL CASTER TODAY VIA EMAIL:hamonyspellcaster1957@gmail.com

Stephine Raymond 8:10 AM  

This is my life testimony of how my husband who left me for 6yrs came back.
I am Stephine
We have been married for three years when he suddenly disappeared with a young rich girl to another country. My life become devastated and shattered because i love him so much, he was every thing to me, upon that i became very sick with affliction, i search for help everywhere possible for cure. I meet so many people who promised to help me but at the end they fooled me and took my money, so i gave up with no hope of getting my husband back again, until i meant an old friend called Sarah who saw my misfortune and introduce me to one Dr. Harrison, at first i didn't believe him thinking he is one of those who cheated me before, but after much pressure and assurance from my friend i decided to contact him. After contacting him he gave me assurance that i should not worry that he will help me with my husband and my sickness, after 48hrs of contacting Dr Harrison i was amazed when my husband who has not called for the past 6yrs called me pleading with tears and many apology that he is coming back home. TO cut the story short he came back penniless he said that he was duped, yet i was so happy that my husband is finally back, but when Dr. Harrison heard of his predicament he told me not to worry that he will help me with everything. The same week i meant Dr. Harrison i woke up one morning to see my affliction was gone, after the third week my husband got a well paid job and official private car. The greatest news came when my doctor told me i was two weeks pregnant, right now we are happy and blessed family everything in my family is perfect. i must say thanks to my friend Sarah, and special thanks to my wonderful Dr. Harrison he is a God sent. My friends are you in any form of problem please don't give up there is solution he did it for me and he will also do it for you. Dr. Harrison is special in spell: for ex-back, good job appointment, promotion at work,increase in business, healing and including HIV disease and protection. contact him now through this email; hollysacredspelltemple@outlook.com or call him through his phone number +234815674381

Stephine Raymond 8:10 AM  

This is my life testimony of how my husband who left me for 6yrs came back.
I am Stephine
We have been married for three years when he suddenly disappeared with a young rich girl to another country. My life become devastated and shattered because i love him so much, he was every thing to me, upon that i became very sick with affliction, i search for help everywhere possible for cure. I meet so many people who promised to help me but at the end they fooled me and took my money, so i gave up with no hope of getting my husband back again, until i meant an old friend called Sarah who saw my misfortune and introduce me to one Dr. Harrison, at first i didn't believe him thinking he is one of those who cheated me before, but after much pressure and assurance from my friend i decided to contact him. After contacting him he gave me assurance that i should not worry that he will help me with my husband and my sickness, after 48hrs of contacting Dr Harrison i was amazed when my husband who has not called for the past 6yrs called me pleading with tears and many apology that he is coming back home. TO cut the story short he came back penniless he said that he was duped, yet i was so happy that my husband is finally back, but when Dr. Harrison heard of his predicament he told me not to worry that he will help me with everything. The same week i meant Dr. Harrison i woke up one morning to see my affliction was gone, after the third week my husband got a well paid job and official private car. The greatest news came when my doctor told me i was two weeks pregnant, right now we are happy and blessed family everything in my family is perfect. i must say thanks to my friend Sarah, and special thanks to my wonderful Dr. Harrison he is a God sent. My friends are you in any form of problem please don't give up there is solution he did it for me and he will also do it for you. Dr. Harrison is special in spell: for ex-back, good job appointment, promotion at work,increase in business, healing and including HIV disease and protection. contact him now through this email; hollysacredspelltemple@outlook.com or call him through his phone number +234815674381

spacecraft 12:42 PM  

Never heard of that CRYSTAL GEYSER thing. When you have a 13-letter entry that has to go in all on crosses, it gets to be a bit of a slog. Is that to be this week's theme? Slogs? Yikes, I dread Sunday!

Props for the RASHOMON/ CAMEROON duo; otherwise this one was pretty much meh. I'm underwhelmed. C-.

rondo 1:10 PM  

Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff describing certain women:"creamy cupcakes with LOAMY loins". Will never forget that line.

It's Tuesday so I don't expect much, so that's what I got. It's OK, but definitely has no bang.

Considering recent puzzles can we call a foul for double DRIVEL??

For a singular ASTRO why not "Jetson's dog"?

Is there a dance called the CHA CHE MOC MES?? Maybe exotic food?

Not a classic puz, but tolerable.

DMG 1:45 PM  

A one letter DNF! Ended up with fOLKOPERA (?). Had no idea about Mr. ROCK, but shouldd have gotten Mr. AUER!
Other than that, had otIS for the baseball guy until it couldn't be. Wasn't there an Otis Speaker? We enjoy CRYSTALGEYSER all the time- maybe it's a western brand? Also enjoy Billy C., but never heard of any of Rex's four- another age thing I guess. Sigh!

Burma Shave 2:03 PM  


ROWENA ANNE made a CLAIM against Pfizer
for each AUER they tried to ANALYZER
whether SANELY or not
she proved she’s not a ROBOT
‘cause with JED in the SHED
she discovered her own CRYSTALGEYSER.

johnsonl morgan 4:12 AM  

My name is Johnson Morgan , and I base in USA...My life is back!!!
After 2 years of Broken marriage, my husband left me with two
kids . I felt like my life was about to end i almost committed
suicide, i was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to
a spell caster called Dr okougbo, which i met online. On one
faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet,I came
across allot of testimonies about this particular spell caster.
Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back,
some testified that he restores womb,cure cancer,and other
sickness, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce
and so on. i also come across one particular testimony,it was
about a woman called Sonia,she testified about how he
brought back her Ex lover in less than 2 days, and at the end of
her testimony she dropped Dr okougbo e-mail address. After
reading all these,I decided to give it a try. I contacted him via
email and explained my problem to him. In just 48hours, my
husband came back to me. We solved our issues, and we are
even happier than before Dr okougbo, is really a gifted man
and i will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful
man... If you have a problem and you are looking for a real
and genuine spell caster to solve all your problems for you. Contact
drokougbospellcasterhome@gmail.com anytime, he might be the answer
to your problems. Here's his contact: drokougbospellcasterhome@gmail.com

Ccoodog 2:03 PM  

Has anyone besides me noticed how much of a void this blog has without lms? Where are you, Loren? Your post, often thought provoking, always entertaining, was one of the main reasons I read this blog daily. Well, that.... and to get the right answers!

mary allen 11:45 AM  

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doctor aza an africa spell caster to do in my
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breaking up for 3 years but one day i saw a
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caster helped her with a spell that brought
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me and he assured me that my Husband
will come back to me luckily today i am very
glade to write on this wall that Nick my
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Dr Wadada 6:05 PM  

Call/WhatsApp: +2347054656766
Email: dr.wadada@yahoo.com
Website: http://wadadalovespells.com
Website: http://wadadaspellhome.blogspot.com

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