A River Puns Through It (01-16-2011)

Eric and Abbie here.  It’s 2:30 on Sunday afternoon and we’ve already received 42‼ visits to the site.  Well, the masses must be fed, so here we go.  As a reminder, this site does not contain actual answers (except sometimes), but we can recommend Rex Parker Does the NY Times for those of you just looking for answers.  For those of you looking for a good time though, we have way more beer-and-skittles.  So let’s get started on this week’s less than chock-a-block puzzle.

The theme is super easy to understand, but requires obscure knowledge about Asian rivers that only a puzzle creator named Joon Pahk would expect you to know.  This is the NY Times, not the Shanghai paper, fool.  We had eleven mistakes.  Damnit.

  • There is no doubt that this puzzle contained the best clue in the history of crosswording.  86D: “School whose motto is Latin for ‘Never tickle a sleeping dragon’” (HOGWARTS).  Obviously Eric knew this without a second’s hesitation, and also quoted the Latin from memory for Abbie (who then got a little huffy because the NY Times mistranslated the motto.  “I mean, c’mon, titillandus is clearly not an imperative.  And draco isn’t accusative.  Obvi.  The motto is actually: A sleeping dragon is never to be tickled.”  WE.  ARE.  COOL.)  It’s days like today when we earn our blog name.

  • 22A: “Basketmaking material” (OSIER)  So, this is not a highlight because of the answer (WTF is OSIER), but because Abbie got to show Eric the coolest building in the world.
  • 97A: “Can of Cornwall?” (LOO)  Brilliant.  Quite brilliant.
  • 34D: “Lickspittle” (TOADY) We don’t get it, but we’re adding to the list of words that have been replaced by a crossword puzzle.  We’re not sure exactly the context in which we’ll use “lickspittle”, but definitely file it away for a future blog.

Will Shortz’s Mistakes

(Consider yourself lucky that one of your mistakes was listed as a highlight.  You won’t be so fortunate next time.

  • 14A: “Chocolate Substitute” (CAROB)  Correction.  There is no substitute for chocolate.
  • 30A: “Devour with ‘up’ or ‘down’” (SNARF).  Etymology (from Wiktionary): a blend of either “snort” and “scarf”, or “sneeze” and “barf” eg. “It was so funny, I snarfed my milk onto my keyboard.”  Now that we know where it comes from, we’re suddenly okay with this answer.
  • 56A: “Not give __” (A RAP).  Missing a “c”, Will?
  • 58A: “Pained expression?” (YOWIE) Eric’s okay with this, actually, but he would greatly prefer Abbie’s version of the clue.  When she saw this, she was like, “Oh.  I get it!  It’s an expression coined by Thomas Paine!  Common Sense!?”  (Quote, I’m just too intellectual for you, Will Shortz, un-quote.)
  • 100A: “Aggressive posturin’ on an English river?” (THAMES FIGHTIN’ WORDS).  This is one of the theme answers.  Notice the pun on a river name.  Maybe Mr. (or Ms… what is “Joon”) Pahk didn’t do last week’s puzzle, but our loyal readers will recognize that the phrase “Them’s fightin’ words” was used as an answer to last Sunday’s theme.



  • 126A: “Channel crosser Gertrude” (EDERLE).  There is nothing wrong with this answer.  We just want to show you how hot Gertie is.  Also, Eric said the answer was wrong because ‘r’ and ‘l’ can’t go together.  Abbie’s response: “I mean, her first name is Gertrude…”
  • 41D: “Wow!” (YIPE).  First, it’s either YIPEE, or YIPES.  Who is excited, but only enough for one singular YIPE?  Shouldn’t there be at least two!?  Otherwise, no need for the exclamation mark after Wow.  A better clue: “Mild and surprisingly tame excitement”
  • 72D: “-“ (DASH)  So, this is not wrong.  That is (probably) a dash, though it could of course be a hyphen.  Our problem is only that it’s not specific enough.  It’s small, so it looks like an “en dash”, but it could be a “figure dash”.  It looks bigger than some of the hyphens used in the puzzle, but without a scale provided it’s hard to tell whether it’s exactly half the width of an em dash, as it generally accepted in typography.  Also, worth noting that the “Chicago Manual of Style” recommends an “en dash” when one of the adjectives is two words (as in a “New York-London flight”, but a hyphen between two single words as in a Chicago-Houston flight”).  Just file that away folks.
  • 88D: “Rock, in modern lingo” (WEAR).  This clue is backwards.  What we say (we are modern lingo experts, Ph.D.) is that you “rock” something, meaning you’re wearing it.  Therefore, “to wear,” in modern lingo, is “to rock.”  Not vice versa.  Will Shortz is a weenie.  Truth.

Eric: “Should we tell them that we’ll be a little late next week, and to hold their horses?”
Abbie: “I don’t think anyone cares.  Well, except for the 42 (note: it’s now 45) people who have checked so far today.”
Eric: “Good point.”


8 Responses to “A River Puns Through It (01-16-2011)”

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