Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NYT Wednesday 5/27/09 - Britspeak

This Wednesday New York Times crossword seems to have been compiled just for me. But knowing all the American and British equivalents didn't help much: what really held me up was three little answers - opt, out and cop which took me around 5 minutes at the end. I was convinced I would be able to justify "Friday, notably", but in fact never stood a chance with it; luckily opt-out clauses came to me in the end.

One of my cryptic crosswords in the Listener series was based on a similar idea, which was prescient given that I was destined to emigrate to the US - I won't give too many details as the puzzle has been given a new lease of life in the latest anthology Listener Crosswords: From the Times of London.
Solving time: 20 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 14a ale {Draft pick?}

Four expressions "translated" into Britspeak:
20a keep on lorryin' {Words of encouragement to a Brit?} (keep on truckin')
29a conga queue {Group of dancing Brits?} (conga line)
46a wise blokes {British smart alecks?} (wise guys)
56a catch some zeds {Sleep like a Brit?} (catch some zees)

Corey Rubin
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersCorey Rubin / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 37 (16.4%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.82)
Theme squares46 (24.5%)
Scrabble points323 (average 1.72)
New To Me

60a hubba {When doubled, a wolf's call}. A cause for bemusement then amusement, as I don't think I ever heard "hubba hubba" used in the UK, the wolf whistle or "phwoar!" being a more common way of showing appreciation for someone's appearance. (The wolf in all these references being the seducing, not lupine, variety.)

22d Rea {"The Crying Game" Oscar nominee}. Stephen Rea plays IRA member Fergus in The Crying Game, a 1992 film set in the Troubles.

29d cop {Friday, notably}. This little answer really held me up at the end. I thought I was clever by putting in Man, but that was very counter-productive. I had to get this answer the hard way and then get confirmation from Magdalen that it was right and a reference to Dragnet (which I only know indirectly from spoofs such as Police Squad!).

33d Loeb {Leopold's partner in a sensational 1924 trial}. Well it could only be Loeb, but why?? Leopold and Loeb were University of Chicago students who tried to commit the "perfect" crime by murdering a 14-year-old boy. They were sentenced to life, but Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936. The case was influential on art, being the inspiration for Rope, which was famously filmed by Alfred Hitchcock.


1a jab {One-two part}. I first thought this "one-two" was something to do with music ... wrong! In boxing lingo, a one-two is a jab followed by a cross.

14a ale {Draft pick?}. An old un' but a good un'.
John Keats
15a Ode On {Keats title starter}. Usually odeon would be "Ancient Greek Theater" or "Popular theater name". John Keats was generous to give us this alternative by writing Ode On Indolence and the like.

38a opt, 30d out {Kind of clause}. Not knowing 29-Down, I got really stuck on these two at the end. Is it fair to clue two crossing answers interdependently like this? I certainly had trouble with it, but then I do know what an opt-out clause is, so maybe it's my bad?

touchdown41a TDs {Causes for stadium cheers, for short}. Hey! A football reference I know ... touchdown!

63a Ali {Sacha Baron Cohen character ___ G}. Ali G's comedy is sometimes at the expense of others, but those others sometimes merit being humiliated.

2d aliens {Vulcans and Romulans}. Vulcans and Romulans are alien races from the Star Trek franchise, both conveniently humanoid. We saw the new Star Trek movie over the weekend and found it about as silly as the original series; that is to say, we enjoyed it a lot.

7d go-round {Bout}; 10d mix it up {Have a tussle}. These two idioms seem to go happily together: a go-round is an encounter in a conflict of some kind and to mix it up is to be belligerent verbally or physically.

9d A Boy {Bernstein/Sondheim's "___ Like That"}. A Boy Like That is from Act 2 of West Side Story.

12d -ory {Direct conclusion?}; 13d -ose {Sugar suffix}. Two adjacent suffixes, however they are dressed up, seems to me particularly ugly and worth avoiding.

48d ochres {Earth tones}. I was surprised not to see this indicated as a Brit-spelling - isn't ochers the normal American rendering?

The Rest

4a corgi {Cattle-herding breed}; 9a am too {Playground retort}; 16a biers {Stands at wakes}; 17a cir. {Diam. x pi}; 18a board {Get on}; 19a oxeye {Daisy type}; 23a until {Up to}; 24a UAE {Abu Dhabi's fed.}; 25a tics {Little jerks}; 28a psst {"Hey, over here!"}; 32a aloud {One way to think}; 34a upset {Dark horse's win}; 35a ham {Eggs Benedict need}; 39a ami {Aramis, to Athos}; 42a elute {Extract with a solvent}; 44a exude {Give off}; 49a limp {Favor one side, perhaps}; 53a nein {Dresden denial}; 54a ace {Sail through}; 55a video {Wedding memento}; 62a rotor {Turbine part}; 64a a roll {On ___ (hot)}; 65a euros {Money in la banque}; 66a let {Net judge's call}; 67a pixel {iPhone display unit}; 68a stone {Piece in the game of go}; 69a sys. {Method: Abbr.}.

1d jack up {Hike, as a price}; 3d berets {Left Bank toppers}; 4d Cobol {Computer language in Y2K news}; 5d OD on {Take too much of, briefly}; 6d real {True-to-life}; 8d in drag {Clad like some Halloween paraders}; 11d teeniest {Hardest to see, perhaps}; 21d pita {Hummus holder}; 26d cued {Like some actors going on stage}; 27d sets {Things some designers design}; 31d quid {British pound, informally}; 35d hewn {Rough-___ (unfinished)}; 36d a lie {Get caught in ___}; 37d music-box {It may have a spinning ballerina}; 39d axe {Pink-slip}; 40d mus {Lambda followers}; 43d tenable {Like a solid argument}; 44d ekes out {Just manages}; 45d Eliz. {Monarch crowned in 1558: Abbr.}; 47d Lac {Geneva's ___ Léman}; 50d ideals {Worthy principles}; 51d medley {This-and-that concert performance}; 52d posits {Puts forth}; 55d verse {Chapter's partner}; 57d tall {Seven-foot, say}; 58d otro {Other, in Oaxaca}; 59d moon {Provide with a rear view?}; 60d hap {Chance, poetically}; 61d URI {Ocean State sch.}.


fmcgmccllc said...

I wondered what your response would be to this one, I just now got corgis-Eliz, and I hated Eliz as an answer.

Magdalen said...

Here's a fun fact: My first husband and I solved that Listener crossword that Ross referred to (which also includes Britspeak & American-speak, not to give too much away) on a transatlantic phone call the summer before we got married. A very apropos puzzle for an American & a Brit to solve together. Henry had to explain to me who "Arcturus" (Ross's nom des mot croises) was. A few months later, I met Ross for the first time. Truly a case of what goes around comes around. Or something...

Crossword Man said...

I was going to comment on quid and Eliz in light of the theme, but then thought - no, they're just coincidental. No you point out the corgi connection, I'm not so sure ... you may be onto something.