DH Wishes He Were DA

DH crosswords can be tough. That, however, is not because of any artistry on DH’s part. Instead, DH takes the ungracious option of resorting to obscure words, many of which are not particularly entertaining and almost never slang-related (DA and slang are happy and natural bedfellows.)

Today’s obscurities included:

  • Hosea: a minor Jewish prophet who I happened to be aware of because he was referred to in a previous cryptic I had done (which I believe was a DA);
  • Lethe: a river in Hades whose water when drunk makes the souls of the dead forget their lives on earth (OK, I grant this word is quality);
  • adyta: the innermost sanctuary of an ancient Greek temple;
  • eosin: a red fluorescent dye that is apparently a bromine derivative of fluorescein or one its salts or other derivates, whatever that means;
  • tocsin: an alarm bell or signal;
  • doge: the chief magistrate of Venice or Genoa.

Slim Pickings: DA Gold (22nd of August)

27 across: Celebrity sailor act in bondage setting (7)

I’m including this one because of the titillation factor. I ended up thinking celebrity = star and sailor act = row giving starrow as some kind of bondage setting that I had never heard of but which DA was clearly familiar with. I was mistaken, however (although I do like to think that DA has a penchant for domination), and sailor = tar, act = do, bondage = sm giving sailor act in bondage setting = stardom = celebrity.

14 across: (hobo) 25-across lacks aspiration reciting woodwind (4)

A nice double-barrelled aural clue (which is perhaps why this DA was not so much fun — there weren’t many aural clues.) Hobo lacks aspiration = obo giving hobo lacks aspiration reciting = oboe = woodwind.

22 down: He plans grand finale for 2-down (Huckleberry Finn) or 11-down (Tom Sawyer) (7)

Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer = rafter (they both rafted down the Mississippi), grand finale = d giving he plans = drafter = grand finale for Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer. (Did you notice how d was well hidden by grand finale because the two words go together so effortlessly?)

DA Confusion (22nd of August)

26 across: Garish gear short about $100 (7)

The answer is kitschy, which I suppose means either garish or garish gear. I have nothing else.

12 across: Literary lion obliterated small boy (4)

Which part of this clue is the synonym or synecdoche for alan?

1 across: Before circling in, produces contraceptive (3, 4)

The direct clue is so clear that the pill is very easy to get out, but the explanation is another matter.

13 across: Alternate point to be accepted by European ministers (5, 5)

This one is really confusing. The answer is front bench.

21 down: US Jewish novelist half-accepts another knocking shop (7)

Roth is the US Jewish novelist, but I’m really not sure how brothel is produced from the rest of the clue, nor am I sure whether or not brothel = knocking shop or just brothel = shop.

DA Gold (which turns out to be a teaching from the 22nd of August)

Sadly, this one’s clearly the best of a shallow lot:

11 down: (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) 7-down 10-across’s own cat feller (3, 6)

Here, cat = tom, feller = sawyer and you get the rather humorous Samuel Langorne Clemens’s own = Tom Sawyer = cat feller. I thought this was going to be a candidate for DA Bullshit because the y seems to appear from nowhere, but yet again DA teaches me something new and online dictionaries again prove their worth — a sawyer is a person who saws.

Twain’s DA on Friday, the 22nd of August

samuel clemens da

(the circled answers were either wrong or not attempted)

Friday was a day of sickness for me. Bored as I was at home without many options for amusement, I turned to DA to get me through the day even though I knew there would not be much point to a DA breakfast with TH over the weekend if I were to proceed. And so it was that I attempted last Friday’s DA solo, although I must admit that Wikipedia did come to the aid of a feverish mind for the answer to the clue that all others referred to.

Getting the answer early on to the pick of the clues was the key to the crossword’s unravelling:

11 down: 7-down 10-across’s own cat feller (3, 6)

Although I hadn’t solved it yet, it looked as though 7-down 10-across was referring to a novelist. With that in mind, I was thinking of literary cats, and eventually I mentally stumbled upon cat = tom and got myself thinking of tom sawyer before realising that tom sawyer is quite a funny clue for cat feller, and although it might seem that DA doesn’t account for the y, it turns out a sawyer is indeed a person who saws wood.

This then made it obvious what the answer to the pivotal clue was:

7, 10 across: Novelist wryly changes men, all our so-called flops (9, 7)

I knew Mark Twain was a pseudonym, and, although I knew his birth name was in my brain somewhere, it didn’t come to mind. I was too sick to bother working out the answer, especially when the dear computer was so near, so I got onto Wikipedia and discovered that the clue works out to be wryly changes men, all our = Samuel Langhorne C, flops = lemons, so-called flops = lemens giving wryly changes men, all our so-called flops = Samuel Langhorne Clemens = novelist.

With that, much of the rest of the crossword was worked out reasonably quickly, although 3-down remained a mystery because the character it refers to I had never heard of. Unfortunately, though, the Twain-themed crossword turned out to be one of DA’s lesser marvels. There was another reference to Lana Turner like there was a few weeks ago, there was not much quality to be found and, once the clue to which all others referred was worked out, there was not all that much to it.

It did, however, make my day of sickness pass by that much faster.

The DA Teachings (from 15th August)

2 down: Managed to cinch front evenly on little Bavarian dress

A German co-worker helped me out on this one, but, even then, I still had no confidence putting the answer in because I couldn’t figure out an explanation. Thankfully, NC came to the rescue with an explanation, and we have here managed = did, front evenly = rn, managed to cinch front evenly = dirndl = little Bavarian dress.

Update: Oopsies! As NC pointed out in the comments, I forgot to account for the l. The explanation should be managed = did, front evently = rn, little = l (which is dodgy) so that we get managed to cinch front evenly little = dirndl = Bavarian dress.

22 down: Audio circuit magnifying glass

I knew this one circuit = loop and audio circuit = (sounds like) loop, but I had no idea that a loupe was a type of magnifying glass used primarily by jewellers and watchmakers, thus giving audio circuit = loupe = magnifying glass.

NY Times Crossword

The NY Times crossword is a strange beast. It’s bigger and has fewer black spaces for one thing, but the clues are a strange mix of general knowledge and synonyms, sometimes cryptically combined, although not in the same way that Australians or Brits are used to at least.

There’s quite an entertaining movie about them, Wordplay, which is definitely worth seeing just to watch our cousins (they’re part of the same family as us, but not quite the same immediate family) in the USA and their own crossword-solving culture.

And what inspired this post: here’s an interesting guide to solving the NY Times crossword by Will Shortz, who is the crossword editor for the paper and is the only person in the world to have a degree in Enigmatology, or the study of puzzles.

So Much Confusion (15th of August)

25 across: Relaxed dope beginning to rile short bloke (8)

Here, the answer is relaxed = informal. The rest, though, umm…

24 across: Pygmy race pelt famine site (6)

famine site = darfur, which means pelt = fur, but how does dar = pygmy race?

20 down: Lean Eastern director! (3, 3)

The exclamation mark means this is one of those where the direct clue is the entire clue, so lean Eastern director = ang lee, but although I can see the letters of lean within ang lee, I can’t explain why the g is there or the i.

9 across: Yonder mower sounded absurd (8)

Absurd = farcical, meaning that yonder = far, but how does cical = mower sounded? Is this really a contender for DA Bullshit?

2 down: Managed to cinch front evenly on little Bavarian dress (6)

A German co-worker gave me dirndl = little Bavarian dress, but even though he was able to help me out on that, I didn’t put it in because I had absolutely no idea how dirndl = managed to cinch front evenly.

4 down: Like nursing, like making new… (diode) (12)

The answer is reassembling. I can offer little more.

Update: NC has supplied the solution to 4 down in the comments, and it now takes its rightful place in DA Gold.

Quality DA (15th of August)

6 down: (reassembling) …conductor for Candle in the Wind subsequently? (5)

I didn’t get this one out, but it was certainly amusing when looking up the answers regardless. Candle in the Wind was an ordinary Elton John song when first released, but after Princess Di’s funeral, it became a Di ode. So, Candle in the Wind subsequently = diode = conductor (I’m not sure why the reassembling from the previous clue is necessary, but I’ll just let that slide.)

27 across: Auditor went wrong with travel disorder (8)

This is a tough sounds-like clue, but quality all the way. Went wrong = sinned, travel = roam meaning that auditor went wrong with travel = syndrome = disorder. What’s especially nice is that the travel sounds-like clue makes for the travel destination, Rome.

Update: A new addition to DA Gold now that an explanation has been provided by NC!

4 down: Like nursing, like making new… (diode) (12)

Like = resembling, like = as and nursing is the containment indicator, meaning that like nursing, like = reassessment = making new. Like can mean a variety of things in a cryptic, and, fittingly, we have two separate meanings for the two separate instances of the term in the clue.

Yet again the ellipsis is applied without much reason, but, again, we’ll let this slide because the clue is so good.