BuzzFeed Crossword – Wednesday 13 January 2016
“TWO PEAS IN A POD” by Damon Gulczynski
Two Peas in a Pod
Constructor: Damon Gulczynski
Theme: People with the surname “White” appear over people with the surname “Rice”.
- 14A: BETTY – White who had a random career resurgence about 10 years ago where she made fun of how old she was all the time*
- 17A: JERRY – Rice considered by many the best wide receiver in NFL history*
- 10A: JACK – White who was the vocalist and guitarist on the 2003 hit “Seven Nation Army”*
- 16A: ANNE – Rice who wrote “Interview with the Vampire”
- 25A: MEG – White who was a bandmate/wife of 10-Across*
- 30A: TIM – Rice who wrote the lyrics for “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Evita”*
- 45A: RON – White of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour whose nickname is “Tater Salad”*
- 50A: JIM – Rice who played his entire Hall of Fame career with the Boston Red Sox (1974-1989)*
- 59A: VANNA – White who’s the master at turning a phrase?
- 62A: ELMER – Rice who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1929 play “Street Scene”*
- 60A: MIKE – White who co-created HBO’s “Enlightened” and played the real Ned Schneebly in “School of Rock”*
- 63A: GLEN – Rice who was a three-time NBA All-Star and also may have had a fling with Sarah Palin*
- 7D: LIKE WHITE ON RICE – Extremely close… or how six pairs of answers are situated in this grid?
Lena: I noticed all the Rices before I started seeing the Whites– whoa weirdly I only just now realized there were asterisks at the end of the theme clues. My brain lumped them in with all those end quotes, I guess? Why can’t you put them at the beginning of theme clues like every other puzzle! /buzzfeed commenter
Michael: I got the revealer easily after a couple WHITE / RICE pairings fell into place (clues made it very easy to pick the gimmick up). MIKE White is not a thing tho. Just FYI. Oh, and using JACK *and* MEG feels like cheating.
Ben: There were several of these I didn’t know, although I’ve never been great with names. MIKE White and ELMER Rice do seem like outliers, fame-wise, though. BuzzFeed isn’t an outlet that usually refers to 1929 Pulitzer winners.
Lena: Also weirdly– maybe not, who knows– I have on multiple occasions used LIKE WHITE ON RICE to describe a strong affinity… Does anyone else use this phrase IRL?
Michael: “Like stink on shit, stink on shit!” (everything I know about this idiom, I learned from “Dazed and Confused”). I have never used “LIKE WHITE ON RICE,” probably because it sounds really, really racial, despite not being so.
Ben: Same — it’s not really a thing in Canada, although I knew the phrase. I liked the theme, but I got a little frustrated with all the little corners set up in the grid to accommodate the short themers. In particular, 38A: Inanimate opponent of a costly American war with many prisoners took me forever to work out (DRUG) since I didn’t know either name. Good clue, though.
Lena: I didn’t really know/get excited by many of the Whites n’ Rices, so that was a bummer; lotsa sporps. VANNA’s clue, [White who’s the master at turning a phrase?] is, of course, clever, but something about it made me think it had been used before. It looks like [Famous phrase-turner] is the closest in the NYT, but for me it’s close enough. When I write clues I check to make sure that my super awesome clever angle hasn’t already been used to similar effect. VANNA’s role on the game show presents lots and lots of clever misdirection fodder, so I probably would have tried for something else.
Michael: That doesn’t seem quite fair, somehow. Clue is good. If I’ve seen it, it’s gone far away. I wonder what kind of due diligence is required here. Every clue you write? Just the tricksy ones? [Lena: <nods> just the tricksy ones– if fill should be fresh, so should clues imo]
Lena: I side-eyed REEL OUT (2D: Extend, as a line) because my brain goes to fishing and it’s cast out/reel in. I’m sure it’s been said and done and is a real reel thing, but it still sounds like a Made-up Crossword Action to me. [Michael: true]
Ben: I thought SENHORA was iffy, though Google says it’s real. I’ve never seen it with the H. Was impressed by how smooth the centre came out with all the long downs.
Lena: I liked 31A: Top-ranking suit, in cards… obnoxious suit, in politics (TRUMP)
Michael: Not me. I would like him not mentioned ever. I’m not even slightly amused any more.
Lena: Yeah, I don’t want to believe he’s real either– I liked that the clue called him a suit.
Lena: I have no idea what 15A: Country singer LeAnn when she was single and cold and frosted? (RIME) is supposed to mean. Oh, that’s why– Definition of RIME is “an accumulation of granular ice tufts on the windward sides of exposed objects that is formed from supercooled fog or cloud and built out directly against the wind.” Dude. Dude. What’s wrong with the Ancient Mariner? A Coleridge joke? Literally anything else! This is quite possible my least favorite clue of all time.
Michael: Disagree times a million. This made me legit LOL. It’s the funniest thing in the grid. Also enjoyed the clues on DR. J (38D: I think he had a Ph. D in schooling fools on the b-ball court) and KEG (13D: It gets pumped for a party?)
Lena: Sorry, but the RIME clue is like a neutron star of badness; inception-style crosswordese whackness. RIME is already crosswordese (although apparently I’ve somehow missed its non-Coleridge related Earth Science definition all this time), and so jumbling in LeAnn with the existing crosswordese definition as… misdirection? Direction? It just comes across as a total trainwreck to me.
Ben: I definitely knew the “frost” definition of RIME before I started solving crosswords, so have to disagree. I smiled at the clue there. My favourite clue was on SEANCE (51A: Activity in which people talk to the dead (but not really) (but maybe))
I appreciate the write-up. Initially, I envisioned this puzzle having circles in the grid around the Whites and Rices (no asterisks) and not using the names in the clues explicitly, but that didn’t work because the BZF software doesn’t support circles in the grid, so we had to change it a bit.
As for the VANNA clue, I *did* research it first. In fact, I was very surprised to see nobody had used the “turn of phrase” pun before. (“Woman of letters?” seems to be the standard play-on-words clue.) I either missed or disregarded the previous “phrase-turner” clue because (a) it’s not a pun; mine is different, (b) it appear in exactly one puzzle over a decade ago!
Anyway … keep up the good work.
(And if anybody is interested in more detailed constructor notes, just click here. Also Mike White is totally a thing: “Freaks and Geeks,” “School of Rock,” and costar of an HBO show with Laura Dern is enough to make you a thing, in my opinion.)
Nice idea. I do think the 6 sets of theme answers along with the reveal was a little too ambitious. I would have ditched the two sets of 3-letter theme entries; the resulting chore of filling the grid wouldn’t have been as laborious, and as the reviewers say the MEG/JACK thing was kind of cheating anyways.
This was fun. I’m with Lena on 15A, though. Those weird mash-up clues are fine, except that I don’t think that most people have even a passing familiarity with that definition of RIME. It’s not hard to get, but I don’t love it.
SENHORA is the Portuguese version of “señora;” I’m sure it’s been used in puzzles before?
My biggest problem with the puzzle was that this sort of construction theme doesn’t do anything for me. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, and Damon did a good job with it, but it just doesn’t make me enjoy the puzzle more.