Pagoda placement consideration / TUE 4-5-16 / Fluffy trio / Climate features of equatorial countries / Speckled steed / Anaheim nine on scoreboard / Savior in popular parlance

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: PAIR OF JOKERS (54A: Cards #53 and #54 in a deck ... or a hint to the answers to 19-, 26-, 35- and 47-Across) — familiar phrases made up of two comic actors:

Theme answers:
  • SHORT WINTERS (19A: Climate features of equatorial countries) [Martin Short, Jonathan Winters]
  • WHITE HOPE (26A: Savior, in popular parlance) [Betty White, Bob Hope]
  • CRYSTAL BALL (35A: Prognostication tool) [Billy Crystal, Lucille Ball]
  • ROCK CANDY (47A: Clumps of sugar on a stick) [Chris Rock, John Candy]
Word of the Day: PEABO Bryson (29D: Two-time Grammy winner Bryson) —
Peabo Bryson (born Robert Peapo Bryson, April 13, 1951, given name changed from "Peapo" to Peabo c. 1965) is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, born in Greenville, South Carolina. He is well known for singing soft-rock ballads (often as a duo with female singers) and has contribution to at least 3 Disney animated feature soundtracks. (wikipedia)
• • •

I've definitely seen Rock, Candy, Short, etc. used in themes for their highly repurposable last names, but never quite like this, I don't think. Didn't care too much for this theme at first—couple of themers felt a little wobbly, especially SHORT WINTERS—but then I hit the revealer and thought, "OK, that works pretty well." I don't know any game wherein a PAIR OF JOKERS is a meaningful unit, but decks certainly have two of them, so it's numerically accurate, if nothing else. My Only real problem with the theme is the answer WHITE HOPE, a phrase I have never seen in non-racial contexts. In fact, I've never heard it without "great" in front of it. "Great WHITE HOPE" was the phrase used by noted novelist, sportswriter and racist Jack London to express his deeply held wish that a white champion (namely Jim Jeffries) would rise up and win back the heavyweight title from Jack Johnson, the black champion. "Jim Jeffries must now emerge from his Alfalfa farm and remove that golden smile from Jack Johnson's face. Jeff, it's up to you. The White Man must be rescued" (quote taken from this NPR story from a few years back). It is true that my Webster's 3rd Int'l has as one of WHITE HOPE's definitions: "one of which much is expected, esp. one undertaking a difficult task." But it's not the first definition. Definition 1: "slang: a white contender for a pugilistic championship held by a colored person" ("colored"??? how old is this thing? Oh, 1961 ... OK then). Too racially loaded, this phrase. Just google it. It's racial. I mean, when Larry Bird comes up on the first page of hits, come on. Also, it is patently absurd to say that WHITE HOPE means [Savior, in popular parlance] unless you radically revise the meaning of the word "popular." I'd've tried to make a different pairing work. There are a gajillion comic actor names out there. WHITE SALES works. FRY COOK, also good. The WHITE HART was the personal badge of Richard II. So there are options. But you might have to rework your themers quite a bit to maintain symmetry.

Loved the "?" clues on both RAGE (55D: Road hazard?) and ENVY (58D: Go green?) at the bottom of the grid. Don't really get why you go with DOGS IT (4D: Doesn't give ones full effort) over DOG-SIT (an always current activity), but there's no harm no foul there. I still don't think DARE ME is a thing people actually say, though the title of this Megan Abbott novel suggests otherwise:

I spent the past weekend at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, CT. I have much to say about it, but I don't have the time / energy to cover it all now. Look for my write-up Wednesday, possibly Thursday. In the meantime, here's my wife's write-up. Also, here's a GIF of Will Shortz looking at me with what I choose to believe is deep admiration:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:08 AM  

Medium for me. I suspect the phrases that would work here are very limited and I'm still wondering whether it's Slappy or Betty WHITE? I also suspect my high school aged granddaughter, who does the NYT Monday puzzles, would have problems getting this theme as she would not know most of the comics...CRYSTAL and ROCK maybe. She didn't catch the theme a couple of Mondays ago when stars names were clued to form phrases...BATTLE FIELDS, GRIND STONE...because she did not know the stars. Not sure what this says about her generation other than AP classes/college prep seem to suck up all most all of her time. I know she watches no TV.

But @M&A I digress...reasonably smooth grid, spot on Tues. theme, liked it.

Unknown 12:36 AM  

Fully agree about WHITE HOPE. It's wrong in a technical sense (the phrase is GREAT White Hope). The phrase cannot be divorced from its racial context. (Damn the dictionary definition of "one of which much is expected." Could you have said of Tiger Woods when he sprung on the scene that he was a white hope? No. No you could not. Or at least not without being a complete asshole.) The clue (Savior, in popular parlance) feigns ignorance of the phrase's implied racism—unless you read it with extreme cynicism and observer that, yes, racism continues to be surprisingly popular.

PAIR OF JOKERS is not a thing. A Google search for "pair of jokers" returns a mere 25k results, and the top hits don't refer to cards but to comedic duos.

As an answer, SHORT WINTERS is green paint. Worse, its clue (Climate features of equatorial countries) is wrong. The tropics do not have short winters; they do not have winters at all. They can have wet and dry seasons. You could argue, I suppose, that winter refers strictly to the calendar season (December 21-March 20), but by that definition winter lasts the same amount of time everywhere.

This puzzle should not have been published.

Eejit 1:24 AM  

Struggled with this a bit, just some niggly bits here and there. Whatever, Monday is over with. We had a beautiful full rainbow in dc this evening. I think it meant tomorrow's crossword will be better.

chefwen 2:46 AM  

There seems to be a serious drug sub-theme inserted into this one. WHITE, CRYSTAL, ROCK, POT all followed up with DARE ME and WENT WILD. Perhaps I'm just watching too many Intervention episodes.

After reading his BIO I can't believe this is the first I've heard of PEABO, I'll have to check out some of his music, sounds like someone I would enjoy.

Fairly easy Tuesday with no write overs, PEABO was the only question mark.

Cassieopia 3:00 AM  

Was frankly shocked at WHITE HOPE. I had to cheat to find the word HOPE because I couldn't figure out how HOrsE fit in there, and "knight" didn't fit at all and could have worked with the theme. My jaw dropped when I found it was HOPE. So while typically my puzzle comments are cheerful and appreciative, this time I must channel my inner Rex and say that I found that phrase completely and utterly unacceptable in a NYT crossword. What, what were they thinking? It was a nice puzzle otherwise, but that one glaring flaw left an awful taste in my mouth.

Rabi Abonour 4:54 AM  

This is insanely terrible. I googled WHITE HOPE expecting it to only be too obscure to be called "popular." I didn't expect it to be super racist - you're being too kind by calling it "racially loaded." SHORT WINTER is questionable, and PAIR OF JOKERS isn't a thing. And "Partied like it was 1999"? Seriously?

This should have been completely trashed just on the basis that the revealer sucks. Then we never would have had to deal with this awful execution. It's a bad puzzle without the racist answer, and downright offensive with it.

TOCraig 5:02 AM  


smalltowndoc 5:21 AM  

Agree with @Rex. WHITE HOPE and its cluing are just unacceptable.

Unknown 5:36 AM  

Apologies to Annabel for misspelling her name yesterday. The "b" and "n" don't work on my laptop requiring opening a virtual keyboard to type those letters. With two "n"s and a "b", typing Annabel takes quite a few mouse clicks and the correct spelling got lost in that shuffle.


Adam 6:46 AM  

This played easy for me. I agree with @Rex about the theme - meh until the revealer, which is as you'd want it.

I really, really wanted WHITE KNIGHT as the savior, and was incredulous as the downs revealed HOPE instead. Ugh. DRNO is one of my favorite Bond films; I was he'd part of Goldfinger the other night while waiting for Billions to come on. I don't think anyone has said ONPOT for at least 30 years. But overall this played clean for me; I enjoyed it.

Lewis 6:52 AM  

@rex -- I had a funny feeling about WHITEHOPE as well, and thank you for fleshing that issue out.

I stubbornly held on to GIF for 1D for too long (and bagSIT), otherwise, this solved smoothly. Great clues for ONEAL, RAGE, and IDO, and I liked the answers FENGSHUI, DISCREDITED, KEEP (as clued), and LETSNOT. Once again, and I've been saying this a lot lately, a very clever theme, one that seems so obvious to do, but never done before, with a terrific reveal. Bravo, Dan.

Some cool elements as well. A PAID up, the EDGE on the edge, the antithetical crossing of DAREME and LETSNOT and the JOKERS touching WILD.

Best type of puzzle: Filled with fun and spark, so much so, that I easily overlook the nits.

Lewis 7:33 AM  

Reading over my last comment, I don't want to imply that the racial element of WHITEHOPE is a nit. That I'm not overlooking, especially after Rex's and a couple of other comments.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

That GIF has made my morning. Thanks Rex!

Wm. C. 7:45 AM  

@MartinA12:36 --

OK, gotta agree with you and others about White Hope. And Short Winters should have been better-clued. But I have no problem with Pair of Jokers. Anyway, I'm surprised at Shortz, and I blame him more than the author -- he failed at his job here.

So rather than "should never gave been published," I think a more constructive comment would be "should have been more appropriately edited." Apart from a couple of flaws (admittedly, one very bad) the puzzle was OK.

Lobster11 7:47 AM  

If that's not a look of deep admiration on Will's face I don't know what it is. Well, actually, I have some ideas, but think I'll keep them to myself and so let's just go with the admiration thing.

Count me among those rendered incredulous by WHITEHOPE. Even if the constructor's intentions were entirely innocent, which I presume they were, it displays a remarkable level of tone-deafness.

Agreed that there are a few very clever clues, but what those few gaveth the painfully dull remainder tooketh away.

Can we please outlaw ONPOT? Not the pot, just the phrase. No one ever says ON POT. Ever. Grrrrr.....

Brett Hendrickson 8:07 AM  

Despite the beadiness, I can see the love in Shortz's eyes.

chefbea 8:24 AM  

What a fun puzzle...made me laugh. Had no idea what the theme was until I got to the revealer. Great puzzle!!!

@Rex will read your wife's revue later

Z 8:46 AM  

I suppose cluing 26A as "Donald Trump" woulda been too political.

@Wm C, @Martin Abresch, @smalltowndoc - I agree with @Wm C. If IDI Amin can be in a puzzle, our racist past shouldn't be hidden from view. LET'S NOT whitewash it, though.

@Martin Abresch - I don't know where you live, but SHORT WINTERS are hardly green paint where I grew up. I grew up in West Michigan, where we laughed at how poorly SE Michigan was equipped to deal with their relatively short and moderate winters (lived in SE MI for two decades and I'm still astounded at how poorly people drive there in snowy conditions - please, if you think slamming on your brakes in slick conditions is a good idea stay home). I just spent my first winter in western North Carolina. My bemusement at the response to a one snowstorm winter here was boundless. I must agree on one thing, though, "equatorial" was a head scratcher.

@Lobster11 - I always imagine the stereotypical dowdy aunt saying it on some poorly written sitcom, so ON POT doesn't bug me too much.

Quickie PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product names, and other Proper Nouns as a % of answers. If it gets to 33% someone is going to complain about the puzzle being unfair

A low 18/76, 24%, EXCEPT, 80% of the theme is Pop Culture, half of them dead. If you didn't reach the age of majority by, say, 1990, you have every reason to be less than gruntled by this theme.

jberg 8:49 AM  

What everyone is saying about WHITE HOPE and SHORT WINTERS. The latter was so easily fixable -- just clue it with "subtropical" rather than "equatorial" countries.

Me too with falling for 'gif' at 1D, it took all the crosses before I could see my vacation was PAID. But my much bigger problem was 'the two JOKERS.' That held me up for a long time.

@jae, I don't think you need to know all the proper names to solve the puzzle. I didn't know SHORT, and was unsure about WHITE, but went with them anyway. That's true for about 50% of names, in my solving experience. So tell your granddaughter to keep plugging away!

kitshef 8:50 AM  

OK with PAIR OF JOKERS; it's something you hear (usually with 'what a' in front). Not sold on SHORT WINTERS. Yes, there are short winters but doesn't feel like a stand-alone phrase.

Hand up for WHITEHOPE not acceptable as clued. Hand up for giF before PDF. Also EFf before EFS, which made 23D harder than it should have been.

What really stood out to me about this puzzle is the amount of abbreviations, including some really marginal ones. PDF, UHF, OCT, LIC, ENL, LGA, EPA, MED, LAA, NEV. Of those, LIC and ENL are particularly egregious.

Also odd partials: RIN and BOK.

Also also dated; DRNO, RINtintin, SEEGER, the RAJ, IDI, ONEAL, partying like 1999 (when it feels like this was written). Free passes for CURIE and PEABO, who are historic and timeless.

Dorothy Biggs 8:57 AM  

I'm with anon @ 7:43am: The GIF and caption was probably one of the funniest things I've seen on this blog. It's Holmes meeting Moriarty. It's Peyton Manning meeting Bill Belichick. It's Superman meeting Batman. It's Reagan meeting Khrushchev. So yeah, I'm sure there is lots and lots of admiration in that look...if by "admiration" you are implying that "We will bury you" was Khrushchev's way of saying I'll make sure to look after you when you're dead.

I'm with Rex with the racist laden phrase of "the [Great] White Hope." Maybe someone got confused with the "Great White Way?" which is not racist but refers to light.

I slightly disagree with Lobster11. ONPOT is something my mom would have said in the 70s. "Are you on pot?" But your point is one should say it. Does anyone say "Are you on alcohol?" "Are you on caffeine?" No. No they don't.

Maybe these days someone will ironically ask it, "Are you on the pot?" not. :/

Tim Pierce 9:02 AM  

Thanks to Rex for pointing out, as always, for calling out the NYT's ongoing race problem. The crossword's obsession with black hairstyles is a little unsettling, but this is just appalling.

I liked the theme quite a lot and didn't find myself bothered by either SHORT WINTERS or PAIR OF JOKERS as others were. But I was surprised that Rex didn't call out more of the shaky fill: LAA RIA NEV LGA ENL LIC BOK IDI really?

I almost included EFS in there but the "Fluffy trio?" clue was really pretty clever, so I have to give props for that.

PDF is still not an image file format. I am on the verge of going Leo McGarry over this.

Hungry Mother 9:03 AM  

Quick for me today in spite of staying up long past my bedtime to watch my alma mater win the NCAA championship.

Unknown 9:17 AM  

As usual. I paid no attention to the theme clue until I had no choice today, missing the H and P in Bob’s name. I so wanted 26a to be something about a white knight or the aforementioned on a white horse. A singular rebus? Once I did read the theme clue, the correct letters went right in for the finish.

Also what went right in was me into the WHITE HOPE is ugly faction. Only rarely even penned privately to friends, this warrants a public WTF?

As you might expect, a comment about an audio clue from the audio guy:

5d My stamp of approval for the clue, thankfully not poorly clued as reverberation. Sounds can ECHO/reverberate around in a room. If there are enough echoes from one sound, like a hand clap, that last for a while and they are closely spaced enough in time, you get reverberation. However, no audio pros that I know ever use “echo” or “echoes” as a synonym for “reverberation.”

Just to confuse things further, sounds that “reverberate” don’t necessarily result in reverberation. For example, if you shout across a large canyon, said shout might reverberate around its walls so you hear multiple echoes over several seconds. But this would not be considered reverberation.

Tough to do theme, but even restricting it to well-known JOKERS, there a few other possibilities:

[Howard] [Bert] Stern Wheeler* (No nonsense bicycle rider)

* Maybe a bit obscure, but I think the clue/answer worth it :>)

[Jack] [Joey] Black Bishop (A chess piece you can’t move first)

[Joe E.] [Sally] Brown Fields (What you might see, even in 19a)

[Gene] [Soupy] Wilder Sales (Black Friday)

[Elaine] [Cary] May Grant (Conditional permission)

[Phil] [Will] Silvers Smith (Well…it almost works)

[Adam] [Rosanne] Sandler Barr (Now, if they only had shorter names….)


Sir Hillary 9:17 AM  

WHITEHOPE is as cringe-worthy as it gets -- poor decision to include it.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the theme and was impressed that so many phrases could be made from the last names of funny people.

No major issues with the fill, but EFS annoys me. If it were singular, it would be EFF. Can't have it both ways.

Ludyjynn 9:40 AM  

@Wm. C ECHOs my gut reaction to the WHITE HOPE issue. Editor Shortz could have easily remedied the problem by cluing it differently: 1. Howard Sackler's 1967 award winning play, "The Great _____ ____; 2. James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander both won Tony Awards in the 1969 B'Way production of "The Great _____ ____. The play dealt with racism which unfortunately remains with us more than 40 years later. Sigh.

Another editorial remedy for SHORT WINTERS would have been to clue it as 'What many New Englanders long for' or 'What folks who live in 59Across long for' or the like.

DARE ME and I could do this all day!

After two lengthy rain delays yesterday, the Os squeaked out their first win. LETs GO, Os!

Nancy 9:40 AM  

Another hand up for extreme discomfort with WHITE HOPE and complete disagreement with the way in which it's clued. I saw the original production of THE GREAT WHITE HOPE and that will always seem to me like the true meaning of the phrase. As for the rest of the puzzle: I found it easy, but lively, and it was fun to imagine some of the odd couples. Especially Betty WHITE partnering with Bob HOPE. They might have made a great team, actually.

Mary Jane 9:41 AM  

@ Lobster11 7:47 AM – “Wow, man. I’m ON POT and am soooo baked!” Either…..never…..ever.

POT, allegedly: The word came into use in America in the late 1930s. It is a shortening of the Spanish potiguaya or potaguaya (marijuana leaves) that came from potaciĆ³n de guaya, a wine or brandy in which marijuana buds have been steeped. It literally means “the drink of grief.” [Various sources]

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Enjoyed this as a huge fan of comedy, but WHITE (Slappy, Betty, Ron -- take your pick) was one my last fill-ins and it left an awful taste in my mouth after having had so much fun with the rest of the puzzle. Agree that the WINTERS of equatorial regions aren't SHORT, they're non-existent.

Carola 9:48 AM  

My EYEs also widened at WHITE HOPE, which I at first wondered might be some hitherto unknown to me symbol of a savior, the WHITE HarE. I wish the constructor and editor had concluded, "LET'S NOT" on that one. Otherwise, nifty puzzle. Loved the reveal.

Nancy 9:57 AM  

Just saw this in the Letters to the Editor section of the Times today. It's the letter I also might have written -- but didn't -- and that may be true of many of you, too. Sorry it won't come up in blue, but here is the link:

Bob Kerfuffle 10:02 AM  

No spoilers for yesterday's puzzle here, but it was mentioned that there was a tie-in with the TV show Blindspot. I have never watched that show before, and last night, suffering from ACPT fatigue, I fell asleep before any crossword appeared. However, some kind soul posted an explanation at the end of yesterday's blog comments.

Therefore, today when I see words like ARE and EYE early in the grid, and the awkward cross of LET'S NOT and LET GO, I am left to wonder if this TV connection will be continuing all week.

Bronxdoc 10:08 AM  

White hope: wrong and offensive.

Tita 10:15 AM  

@LudyJynn and @Z - 100% right about SHORTWINTERS. And didn't we get fooled this season - thought we had one ,and then wham/slam a late March storm followed by April snow!!!!!!!

I'll cowardly ignore the controversy about this puzzle, and go straight to ACPT ramblings. (But yes, that entry was so unnecessary.)

Kimberly 10:20 AM  

For some reason I kept making wrong initial guesses and had a hard time correcting them. I think I was actually being stubborn a few times.

The first big irk that may have made me dig in my heels was PDF as an alternative to GIF. While they're both computer file formats, well... that it. They have nothing else in common. Theyre not alternatives for one another. Before you argue with me that your scanner saves pictures as pdf files, just don't. I'm not going to explain it to you. I'm already crabby enough.

The next irk I ran into was the WHITE HOPE nonsense. By this point I realized I'm solving a puzzle by someone who has made a lot of assumptions about phrases and words they've heard over the years but never really learned what they meant. And while this is a fairly common state of existence, it's somehow not ok for a crossword constructor.

Of course I could be wrong and the composer is just a white nationalist. They've been coming out of the woodwork lately, kind of like termites. I really hope it's just ignorance.

Hartley70 10:20 AM  

Rex's wife is a cutie and apparently she can make a mean coconut pie. Hard to argue here, but in some circles that's a more valuable skill than puzzling. It was nice to hear of the glee when Howard won the ACPT. Who doesn't love an underdog and the entire weekend sounds like a love fest. Thanks for the link!

@Loren, you were very generous with your weekend recollections yesterday and made the ACPT come alive for the rest of us. Thanks for taking the time to share it all! It's clear you had a ball, excepting the smoky cabin of course. The very thoughtful @BobKerfuffle may start getting mash notes from admiring females soon! A larger mailbox might be a good idea.

Ouch on WHITEHOPE. That's an unfortunate oversight and in this instance the objection is bigger than a nit to pick. I am assuming the constructor was as clueless as I was when I first saw it, never having read the Jack London piece or seen the play. I've done my research now.

I thought the theme was great for a Tuesday and I needed the reveal to see the connection, which is always a nice surprise.

RooMonster 10:21 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with Rex, about all the complaints. Let me say it again, established constructor, why puz got published.

Again, not bitter here... :-)


Nancy 10:25 AM  

@Tita (from yesterday) -- Re: your comment about your blog profile. It's nothing to be concerned about. If I had 170,000 "views" (!!!!!) I'd shout it to the rooftops. How does ANYONE who's not a major celebrity get 170,000 views? Or ARE you a major celeb, and we just don't know it?

Joseph Michael 10:36 AM  

Finished this puzzle without knowing what the theme is, then finally had a big aha!

Clever idea marred by the unfortunate WHITE HOPE choice which, in the Donald Trump era, feels especially wrong.

On a lighter note, I turn my thoughts to other pairs of jokers, such as:


Z 10:42 AM  

As is my wont, I was re-reading my comment to see what typos got past me and realized that Less Than Gruntled would be a great name for a cruciverbalist Alt-Punk-EDM orchestra. Lewis and Loren writing lyrics, NCA and Greater Peace playing instruments, Alias conducting, Chucky McG on the sound board, The Masked One doing his best Trace Adkins/David Bowie impression as lead singer, Rex writing the glowing review for the Sunday Arts and Entertainment section. I can see the Grammy now.

Nate 10:43 AM  

Agreed with all on the WHITE HOPE clue and answer. I'm honestly aghast that it was published. It's the sort of idiotic clue that will be lampooned by a Gawker-esque website. If they're paying attention, that is.

Anywho, I didn't understand the theme at all until reading the comments. I don't need every puzzle to be under-30-friendly (actually, I don't want that at all!), but none of those "jokers" have been very relevant for a good 20 years, at least. I guess Chris Rock is the closest. I still don't know who WHITE is. Betty White? Is she a "joker"? I guess.

I have a nit to pick with the ONEAL clue. I figured that the "O'Neal Center" was a place in LA in the place, like the predecessor to the LA Forum or something. It wasn't until I Googled it that I realized that "Onetime center of Los Angeles" referred to Shaq, a basketball center. Shouldn't the clue read "Onetime center FOR Los Angeles"? Or is that too obvious? I'd never refer to an athlete as being "of" the place name of their team.

Tita 10:50 AM  

I am slowly awakening from my ACPT-induced fog. What a great weekend! I did a little better than last time (2013), and even had 4 out of 7 perfect!!!
Rex - my solution to the "I keep on dropping down in the rankings because people for whom it actually matters keep challenging their scores" effect is to take a screenshot with my phone and then stop looking.

Well, enough about me.
Let me make a feeble attempt at thanking @Loren for her great writeups of both the even and of us...!!
I will say that if the venue where she used to work as an event planner does not have a bronze statue of her in the entranceway, then I shall write to them immediately to berate them. She must have been the best one ever, because being gracious and inclusive comes from deep inside. She instantly makes everyone around her feel important and smart, because she loves to ask questions that get conversations flowing. Even when she's telling a story about herself, it's somehow never "all about her".

I'll ride on the coattails of what @Loren said about everyone, since I couldn't possibly put it better.

And to give her a break, I'll mention a few other occasional Rexites that I always look forward to seeing.

@Karen, who, along with her mom (didn't come this year, but won her age group a year or so ago), are real contenders. She missed an award this year, but gets honorable mention from me for updating each of us on our standings and those of the "real" contenders. And for NOT giving me her cold and sore throat!! (Fingers crossed - so far so good.)

@JenCT - who has been judging the ACPT and Westport for many years, along with her awesome service dog Emmy. Jen is full of cheer and is a bundle of energy, and always has something good to say about you. Everyone at ACPT knows and loves her - she is the center of attention everywhere she goes, with Emy being a close second.
We had a really nice lunch of take-out pizza at my sister's, who lives nearby, before we each hit the road for home. Her husband and son are fascinating and supportive folks too.
The lab-fest was fun too - Emmy and my sister's 2 black labs had a great time romping outside after a weekend stuck mostly indoors.
here for pics.

@Lindsay, who always delights me with her multi-colored approach to solving - she has a battery of colored pencils, and she uses different colors as she solves to give her visual clues as to her confidence level, etc. It is awesome to see! Though in 2012, Will had to call her out and forbid that practice because it was causing the scanners for the scoring to go berserk!!

@Glenn Ryan, who won Westport this year! Always self-deprecating about his prowess. And not only is he 1 of 3 people I know without a cellphone, but he still uses film cameras!!! And he uses it to make sure he gets his friends in plenty of pics. There was a bit of a chuckle when Will announced at the front of the room "if anyone lost their film camers, we have it up here..."!
And I hope he got past the kerfuffle over the green beans at the Capital Grille.

The video of the talent show is posted at the acpt site - this link takes you to the last bit, which I found to be the best. No spoilers, but it is about a recent, and seismic event in crossworld.
Click to get to that point in the video .

Best ACPT ever. Thanks to everyone who helped pull it off, and to the old and new friends who made it great.

Tita 11:23 AM  

And who could forget @Jan, who won second and third in Connecticut and her age division.
She accepted the awards wearing her hand-made quilted jacket - black & white patterned squares on the outside, a crossword grid on the inside, with various people's names filled in.

Who's got a picture??

(And yes, Tita A appears to be the new me...)

AliasZ 11:24 AM  

The clue did not say "Climate features of equatorial regions". It said countries. Brazil is an equatorial country. Brazil has no winters?? Try to tell that to the ladies of Rio wearing fur coats in July. Gah... temperatures can dip below 60°F!

Lovely joker pairings, albeit PAIR OF JOKERS is neither a common card-playing nor street lingo phrase, except perhaps a descriptive term used when two idiots approach a group of people: "Look at that pair of jokers!"

I was glad to see a PAIR OF JOKERS taking a turn into WILD in the row below.
I love to DOGSIT. In my next life I'll be a DOGSITter.

Try this Renaissance Canzon in ECHO. It does the soul good.

kitshef 11:29 AM  

Unless you are smack on the equator, you still have winter. Winter can be defined astronomically or by weather. Of course, either way the clue makes no sense as using the astronomical definition there are no 'short' or 'long' winters; they are all three months long.

GILL I. 11:43 AM  

I'll plead ignorance and maybe because I really didn't grow up in this country, but The only WHITE HOPE I know of included a Great in it. I actually had HOmE because, like @Nancy, I didn't know Meabo Peabo.
I actually thought this was fun. DOGS IT? DOG SIT? We're sitting 2 standard poodles right this minute, right here in Grass Valley and watching Mad Men on Netflix and the only reason I'm getting off the couch is to walk the pups.
@Loren, et al, loved reading about your ACPT adventures and your wonderful take on the people you fraternized with. Que fun. Sorry about the plane shit. I lived on planes for over 30 years and have had my share of "please don't let me die right now" moments. Believe me, and if evil Doug is hanging about, he'll confirm that it's friggin safer than ridding your bike around the neighborhood.
@Tita...Love your foto.

Hartley70 11:46 AM  

@TitaA, my sympathy on your unexpected Google linkage, but now that the Rexworld knows you have not one, not 2, but 3 gorgeous labs, you are the object of my unbridled envy and admiration. What fun you all must have!

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I had never heard of any of these comedians, so I couldn't find a theme in this anywhere. I have no sense of humor--I'm from Natick.

Penna Resident 12:23 PM  

fortunately 13A jumped out first, so didn't fall for gif, but then I said please do not let that D turn into PDF. maybe there is another file format that i don't know - like hdr, which probably isn't a tuesday file extension. PDF is not a jpeg alt. totally different uses.
and then i read @Kimberly above which sorted it out for me. my scanner allows you to choose if you want to scan as a jpg or a pdf, regardless of what you are scanning. the buttons are alternatives, so i view the clue as being only 95% wrong now. there are many other perfectly acceptable tuesday clues that could have been used that are 0% wrong.

Unknown 12:24 PM  

Yesterday's puzzle was featured on the TV program Blindspot. A clue was mentioned and the filled grid was visible.

Arlene 12:32 PM  

Adding to the ACPT responses - I was there too - my second time competing. What a wonderful event! I enjoyed every moment of it.
Not sure if anyone posted this video yet from the Wordplay blog - but I'm in the front row (long reddish hair) - getting ready to flip over the first puzzle.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

can someone help me with the "fluffy trio" clue? EFS? I am lost.

Rex Parker 12:48 PM  

Three EFS (i.e. the letter "F") in the word "Fluffy."


Masked and Anonymous 12:49 PM  

@009: re: Will Shortz lookin at U approachin him:
* (his) left face side: reasonably happy to see U, but with subtle vibes of interestin emotional layers.
* (his) right face side: Stink-eye!

Asked Google the meaning of WHITEHOPE. Got this…

[white hope

a person expected to bring much success to a group or organization.
"he was the great white hope for many kids trapped in bad lives"

formerly, a white boxer believed by fans to be able to beat a black champion.]

Only two meanins I had been familiar with were Google's second "formerly" one, and BETTYBOB. So … my initial reaction was more like the Shortzmeister's right face, I reckon. Really don't think for a nanosecond that Constructor Dan or Shortzmeister Will meant any harm, tho.

Best weeject: LIC. {Three-quarters of a slurp??}

Officially, it's the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; LAAA!

Don't remember any big solvequest nanosecond eaters. Kinda had to piece together FENGSHUI and PEABO. Slight suspense, on which MAUNA??? it was. DESERTPLANT seems a bit … arid. Otherwise, solid fillins & fun solve. Primo ENVY clue.

Thanx, Constructor Dan.
Personal congrats to new ACPT champ Howard Barkin. In related news, M&A notices that @58 may be the new @009 -- will go with whatever the blog masthead says, tho ...

Masked & Anonymo5Us


mac 12:49 PM  

Still on my ACPT high, which was just increased by reading @Loren's post yesterday!
Wow, thank you! You will not be surprised to find out that Loren is beautiful, smart, quick and irrepressibly
enthusiastic about every event on the weekend! I have to admit that meeting our constructor heroes is very exciting, as well as putting faces to the Facebook friends I had made over the last year. It's hard to describe the general feel of being with likeminded people.

I think this was my favorite ACPT of all the ones I've been to. Merle's memorial helped, but I also think that the location, Stamford, with fewer distractions, makes for more togetherness, and more participation in the evening activities.

Hard-for-a-Tuesday puzzle to me, with some new expressions to learn (dogs it?). I guess Will was otherwise engaged when this puzzle needed to be edited.

chefbea 12:56 PM  

@Anon 12:39 there are three F's in fluffy

xyz 1:13 PM  

When the NW sticks because of awfulness, it often raises the level of difficulty, but in this one it was medium on its own. White hope on its own is very awkward, agreed.


Karl 1:23 PM  

It certainly looks like Will is closing in for a big ole bro hug..

Dick Swart 1:35 PM  

Revealer was what a revealer should be : a fun take on what you may not have seen.

The last time "The Great White Hope" may have been used in polite company was in 1970 re the play with James Earl Jones and Jayne Alexander, and in 1972 with the panned movie version, also with James Earl Jones.

Re semi-selfie ... "if looks could kill".

jae 1:37 PM  

@jberg - I probably should have been more clear. It's not solving the puzzle that's the issue for my granddaughter, it's getting the theme. @Nate (see his comment above), who appears to be a younger solve, had the same problem.

And, add me to the throng of WHITE HOPE cringers.

Timothy Smith 2:10 PM  

Never seen the show before, I caught the Blindspot shot, too. Kind of funny.

Greg 2:14 PM  

The card game Euchre (pronounced regionally as YOU-ker) uses the jokers. It is very popular in the upper-midwest, having been brought by German immigrants. I grew up in northern Wisconsin, and Euchre was one of the first card games I learned (along with Schafkopf). Bicycle Card's website states that the game of Euchre is the reason that decks of cards began to be packaged with a PAIROFJOKERS.

Unknown 3:29 PM  

It does my heart good to see so much agreement on WHITE HOPE.

@Hartley70 - About a comment on yesterday's puzzle, thank you for summarizing "Blind Spot" and for telling us how yesterday's puzzle fit in: "GOT ONE PATTERSON!"

@Wm. C. - You're right that I could have been more constructive in my criticism.

@Z - I've spent time in many places with a wide variety of winters: Chicago, New Orleans, Wyoming, and Seattle (where I live now). I'm not doubting that SHORT WINTERS exist (just as I don't doubt the existence of green paint), but I remain unconvinced that it's an independent phrase.

Chronic dnfer 3:40 PM  

Last time we had pdf for the JPEG clue people went crazy. Pages of comments. Now it's ok? Whatev.

Ok puzz. Half hour and no dnf or mistakes. Had no idea the acpt was in Stamford which is right next door to where I live. The weather was bad enough I might have checked it out!

David in CA 3:49 PM  

Agree with everything everyone has said.

@Dan: 1D doesn't say anything about image formats, just "Alternative to JPEG", which PDF definitely is a great deal of the time. Check out the SAVE menu from any number of program ,e.g. scanner software where every time I need to choose between JPEG and PDF (and about 20 other alternatives).

Never heard of DOGS IT and can never remember how to spell FENGSHUI (is that G pronounced?), so that crossing was impossible, and don't know most of the "jokers", so no joy in Mudville today. But I don't understand the objections to the revealer. If you drew a hand with both jokers would you not say "I have a pair of jokers"? Great revealer, even if it didn't help me.

puzzle hoarder 3:58 PM  

Late entry today. We had a cat emergency this morning and had to spend over an hour at the kitty ER. Looks like it was just a nasty bladder infection and all will be well.
A lot of reaction over WHITEHOPE. My theory on it was any mention of it's racial basis would have made it too obvious. This like most of the theme elements is making it's NYTP debut. Like most people I went down the list of more obvious choices before settling on hope. The phrase is of course "great white hope" so the the clue is intentionally misleading. I'm not surprised by the reaction after all we're not called guilty white liberals for nothing. Until today I never noticed how much white hope and white Hooper looked alike.
This misleading cluing is also used for for 19A. It's common knowledge that the temperate seasons don't exist at the equator. These clumsy attempts to make the puzzle harder may have something to do with it's being easier than Monday's in some aspects. Today measured slightly easier at 64.13. Yesterday was 62.93 and the smaller the number the harder the puzzle. However today's puzzle took me 2 minutes longer. The big difference was the ease of yesterday's fill in the across half. Today the across and the downs halves were much more equal in their difficulty. PEABO was the only real unknown for me so the confusion over 19A and 26A went a long way to padding out that extra two minutes.
Besides from the ignominious implications of 26A's cluing this was a perfectly good Tuesday.

fuzzle 3:58 PM  

I think in the case of this "white hope" blunder, the buck has to stop with Shortz. Incomprehensible! I would hope there would at least be some kind of mea culpa and apology.

Tim Pierce 5:09 PM  

@Ebenezer: when a clue specifies "Alternative to X", I contend that on a Monday or Tuesday puzzle there's an implication that the two "alternatives" are being compared by some aspect of their fundamental nature. JPEG is fundamentally an image file format. PDF is a document container format. They're not the same thing.

If the answer were "PPT", because both JPG and PPT files are used to deliver images that are attached to emails, that answer would provoke a lot more skepticism.

If the answer were "RAW" because both JPG and RAW are options for saving files in a DSLR, non-photographers would shake their heads in dismay. (I might be less surprised to see this answer on a Friday or Saturday puzzle, though, where I anticipate more esoteric knowledge.)

If the answer were "XLS" because both JPGs and XLS files are frequently attached to email messages, no one would buy it.

In conclusion:

Tita 5:37 PM  

@Hartley - lol - thanks, but not mine! Emmy the beautiful yellow lab is Jen CT's, and Windsor and Izzy, the black rambunctious ones, belong to my sister.
We all crashed at her place post-ACPT.

I have had her various dogs as house guests on many occasions, so I will accept some of the kudos for that.

My furry housemates are Venus and Marzipan, who occasionally act as my avatar.
(And where were you, btw - your name came up as one of the locals who we had hoped to see...)

Speaking of kitties, hope yours will be fine, @puzzle hoarder!

Z 6:49 PM  

@Tim - .Contend all you want, all it will get you is further frustration. You are suffering what I call an "einstein," too much knowledge is making the solve harder for you. As others have mentioned, in multiple programs doing a variety of functions on my Mac I can use the save, print, or export functions to get alternatives that include creating either a jpeg or a pdf. Depending on what I plan to do with the file I might need an image file or a document container, which is why my Mac gives me more than one alternative.

@Martin Arbresch - Chicago is on the wrong side of the lake, maybe that's the problem. Maybe it's something peculiar to people who live in lake effect areas. Definitely a real thing and a frequent topic of conversation in November, December, March, and April where I grew up.

@Gregory Schmidt - Speaking of the wrong side of the lake, do they really use a PAIR OF JOKERS for the bowers west of Lake Michigan? I've played euchre for 35+ years and never once used anything more than 9-Ace for a 24 card deck. I know that Hoyle calls for a 32 card 7-Ace deck, but I've never heard of using the jokers.

Mohair Sam 7:44 PM  

Making myself believe that no one at the Times puzzle group knows the facts behind the WHITEHOPE thing. I usually don't notice PC stuff, but that one kinda spoiled the puzzle for me.

Our oldest son played on a high school basketball team whose star power forward was an African-American kid who liked to trash talk any white kid matched up against him with "You're just another Great White No-Hope, aren't ya?" If they reacted he'd call them "No Hope" under his breath for the rest of the game - it was an effective tool.

Shout out to all of you who've taken the time to update the rest of us on the goings on at the ACPT. Almost feel like we made the trip and met the group. Sounds like y'all had a ball. Thanks.

I have no idea what to say about Will's face, what the look means, and the very fact.that @Rex chose to post it.

bensky 9:01 PM  

Agree with everyone on WHITE HOPE, especially as clued. Do you think it would have worked if clued as "Snow for Christmas", or something like that? (Making it emphatically not about a person).

Nancy 9:03 PM  

I can't figure out who took the Will S/Rex P oddly moving photo or where he was standing. Wouldn't Will have known he was being photographed? What's a GIF, anyway? Does it stand for "Gee, I'm Frightened!"? I would be if Will ever looked at me like that. But somehow I really don't think he would. At least I hope not.

bensky 9:04 PM  

Agree completely. This is just a mistake by people who don't understand file formats, IMO.

KandRFenton 9:55 PM  

I just finished this puzzle after a long day at work, so I just now reading your post Rex. I have to say that I am encouraged that I'm clearly not the only one that thought WHITE HOPE was way over the line.

I tend to think we need to have tough conversations to address issues like racism, but this clue was not packaged as a conversation piece. Way over the line.

Hartley70 10:30 PM  

@Tita, where was I? Well I was home watching the snow and periodically kicking myself for not buying a ticket and joining you all for the fun! Rats!

Anonymous 11:47 PM  

I didn't get the theme until reading this, even though I'm familiar with all the actors mentioned, but I thought the puzzle was breezy enough that it didn't really matter as long as I knew I was looking for a pair of words.

This is the second puzzle I can remember in the past year or so that's called PDF an image format. It can contain images, but it's a document format - it's right there in the name. So I was stuck with PNG for a while, which is an actual JPG alternative that starts with a P.

Sharing an image as a PDF is something a particularly computer inept coworker I used to have (who was, oddly enough, doing tech support for our software) used to do. Come to think of it, she was also the kind of person who would use the phrase "on pot" with no irony. Kathy, is Dan your pseudonym?

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

This isn't the first time PDF has been misrepresented as an image format in the NYT puzzle. It can have images, sure, but it's a document format. It's right there in the name.

I did have a coworker who always sent images as PDFs. Come to think of it, she was also the sort of person to use the phrase "on pot" unironically. Maybe Dan is her pseudonym.

Anyway, I didn't get the theme aside from that it was two words, even though I recognize all the actors mentioned, but this was still pretty breezy. Less than 10 minutes, which is pretty good for me.

spacecraft 11:19 AM  

Oh, stop fussing! It's an expression! Certainly no disrespect was intended by either the constructor nor the editor. So stop reading disrespect into it! Aieee, will the Age of Taking Offense never end?

At first I thought only the last halves of the theme ANSWERs applied; forgot about Martin and Betty. Well, while she is for sure a comedienne, she's so much more that all I could think of was Vanna, and I gotta tell ya, watching her ageless body in designer gowns flipping letters may be pleasant--but does not send me ROFL. In fact, let's make her (my God, she must be in her 50's; how DOES she do it?) our Damsel of the Day.

Then I got to the centerpiece and realized the truth. Thus the rest of the revealer line came to light: the JOKERS part was obvious, but each ANSWER was a PAIROF them. BTW, euchre in my experience does not use JOKERS. The jack of trump is the highest card, followed by the same-color jack (right and left "bowers").

I enjoyed the theme and some of the longer fill: kudos for working FENGSHUI into a grid! But I WENT less than WILD over too many threes. The layout felt choppy; nice open NE and SW corners, but lots of little cul-de-sacs elsewhere--with the attendant roughage. It all works out to a par.

Burma Shave 11:54 AM  


they couldn’t LETGO and ROCKCANDY UNEATEN,
it ENDED with their ANSWER – “We like ENVY and cheatin’.”


this stream of unconsciousness brought to you by YELLOWED DOGSIT

rondo 12:33 PM  

Oh why didn’t they just clue it so the ANSWER was a partial of the James Earl Jones film and get past the nonsense. Still, I had no write-overs and finished in ten to twelve minutes. And what else do you call two JOKERS but a PAIR?

Ron WHITE is more of a JOKER than Betty, though she posed nude long before it became commonplace, yeah baby. Martin SHORT has never been funny. Lucille BALL was more of an actress using physical comedy than being a JOKER. DESERTPLANT takes up a lot of green paint space. This all falls pretty flat for me.

I guess the real yeah babies today are all those girls who WENTWILD.

When you go on vacation without Fido don’t you have someone DOGSIT?

DRNO is a great SPY flick.

I’ve seen PEABO Bryson live. He and yeah baby Sheena Easton were putting on a traveling holiday spectacular, with a coupla their radio hits thrown in for good measure.

Easy, forgettable Tues-puz. Glad when it ENDED.

leftcoastTAM 1:55 PM  

WHITEHOPE. Really?! This passes muster at the NYT?!

leftcoastTAM 3:40 PM  

Sorry @spacecraft and @rondo, I can't excuse or rationalize this one. It's an out and out racist term. Its shameful history is clear.

Diana,LIW 4:28 PM  

A touch crunchier than yesterday, but only one erased answer.

Yeah, WHITEHOPE made me wonder if I had missed some awful new slang term. Definitely offensive. If they had to keep it, use (as Rondo said) the play's name to clue it. That's legit. Savior? No.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 4:35 PM  

Maybe it says something about me, but I just can't whomp up the necessary righteous indignation that some find easy to do. It's a phrase. In a crossword puzzle. Perhaps unfortunate, but let it go.

I kind of liked this puzzle with pairs of jokers all over. Good to see Canadian Martin Short in there.

Overall nice FENG SHUI to the grid.

Diana,LIW 10:19 PM  

I am surprisingly upset about some of the whitehope responses. I'll post tomorrow after a night's sleep. Suffice to say, it was wrong on so many counts.


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