03.30.08 -- the Acrostic


From the cover of “Fools Are Everywhere…”

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Puzzle by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon, edited by Will Shortz

This delightful Sunday acrostic anticipates the advent of
April Fools’ Day with a quotation from a paragraph of “FOOLS ARE EVERYWHERE: The Court Jester Around the World” by Beatrice K. OTTO:

“The connection between the jester and the poet worked both ways, and THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A GOOD JESTER INCLUDED THE ABILITY TO EXTEMPORIZE VERSE AND TROT OUT RHYMING RETORTS OR CRINGE-INSPIRING DOGGEREL. POETIC SKILL WAS A VITAL PART OF THE JESTER’S RAGBAG OF TRICKS AT ALL TIMES and in all places. The Elizabethan comic actor and jester Richard Tarlton was so renowned for his ability to extemporize witty verse that he gave his name to a verb, “to tarltonize,” and William Kemp, another Shakespearian clown, actor, was also known for this ability. Actors such as Kemp, needing the actual skills of the jester rather than the ability simply to play the part from a script, came very close to being jesters in their own right.”

The defined words: OAFISH (A. Crude and not very clever); TATTLED (B. Made like a blabbermouth);
TAROT (C. Reading material for a cartomancer); OPERETTA (D. Lyrical form of amusement); FORECASTING (E. Weatherman’s job); OSTRACIZED (F. Banished by votes, cast on potsherds, once); OVERACT (G. Indulge in caricature); LITTLEJOHN (H. One of the Merry Men [2 wds.]); SIGHTGAG (I. Clown shoes or a fake arrow through the head, e.g. [2 wds.]); AMPLIFIED (J. Plugged in for playing; explained further); REJOINDER (K. Comeback from a wag); ESTRAGON (L. “Waiting for Godot” role for Robin Williams); EPIGRAM (M. Pearl of wisdom from Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker); VESTS (N. Garb often worn by magicians and jugglers); EXCALIBUR (O. Weapon thrown into a lake by Sir. Bedivere); RISIBILITY (P. Laughter, or an inclination to laugh); YORICK (Q. Fellow “of most excellent fancy,” to Hamlet); WOLFGANG (R. Puck seen on the Food Network); HUMORIST (S. Will Rogers or Ogden Nash, e.g.); ESPRIT (T. Jeu’___ [witticism]); REDSKELTON (U. Member of the first class of International Clown Hall of Fame inductees, 1989 [2 wds.]); ELOQUENT (V. Silver-tongued; expressively stated).

I wish I were a clever-enough ass to express what a wonderfully cheerful and brilliant acrostic that Emily Cox, Henry Rathvon & Will Shortz have given us -- but then how could I be taken seriously? Suffice to say that this acrostic is enormously entertaining -- and one up on the April Fool!