Huh? for the First DA of Feb, 2010

Tell us of your confusions below and someone through the aether will respond.

Update: Most of my confusions have already been sorted by you find commenters already, yet I still have this one issue:

23 across: Check issue (4)
I don’t get how issue connects to the answer as stated in the comments.

36 thoughts on “Huh? for the First DA of Feb, 2010

  1. For Michael:
    24a: Lowest is the def. The cat is Tom
    19d: Bit of an obscure word meaning Moorish, but fairly straightforward to get from the wordplay

  2. Questions:
    20A: why “selfish”, specifically?
    3D: how does “near desert” fit the middle bit?
    22D: ripper clue, but why in all caps?

    21A: Definition is inaccurate – a bit like flags/exhausts last week, a transitive/intransitive issue.
    6D: I don’t like this construction where a word does double duty.
    17D: the “marble” part – it’s not really a marble, just a bit like a marble (nice old word, though)

  3. Finished it pretty quickly aside from the following problems. Advice appreciated!

    10A,12A Is the literal definition “4-down load”? and then toy with is the anagram indicator, batteries gives most of the letters and then somehow “keeping back local courier” equates to ARB?

    3D the literal clue is “deset digger of Africa” but how does the wordplay work?

    17D what is the nice old word that is a bit like marble? I had been trying to make “marble” = O (looks like a marble), “priest”=REV, “offer shade in bridge”= BID work but I seem to be quite confused

    18D I don’t get it but I may not have the right answer.

    23A can anyone put the answer in a sentence in a way that means “check”

  4. AG, what word is doing double duty in 6D? … looks okay (gold) to me.
    I agree the definition is 6D is dodgy.
    And I too don’t follow the ‘near desert’ part of 3D.

    Oster, BID = ‘offer’; “shade in bridge” is the definition. But I, too, don’t get the “erecting marble”. (I had “R” for ‘priest first’, which leaves “ove” for ‘erecting marble’ => “evo” … huh?). Re. 23A: cf. “XXX the flow”. And 18D is a bit wooly for an obscure definition clue.

    And “on the font” seems a lousy (slatery! :-) definition for 18D …

  5. 10a, 12a: the definition is courier carrying 4 down load, the local being a bar inserted backwards
    3d: the definition is digger of Africa. Breakwater is mole, desert (a verb) is rat.
    17d: Dibs is an australian slang word for marbles, as in the children’s game. never heard of it myself, guessed it from the context, but it’s in the Macquarie. The O is “first to offer, and “shade in bridge” (as in put in the shade) is the definition.
    18d: I am inform by Raoul that wind is a move in Mah Jong
    23a: Stem the flow, check the flow, both in the sense of stopping it
    13d: “on the font”, in the sense of regarding, or with respect to, is a good definition for the adjective.

  6. Ta for the 17D explanation. Here’s a nice bit of background:,5258516
    talking about “dibs” and “dibstones” in the 1930s (albeit in the U.S.).

    Re. others:

    > 18d: I am inform by Raoul that wind is a move in Mah Jong

    Not a “move” per se. The winds (N, S, E, W) are tiles (effectively, cards) that can be played; over a sequence of games, the different winds take their turn as prevailing, which affects the scoring.

    > 3d: […] desert (a verb) is rat.

    Well, there you go. My first reaction was “tosh!” but Actually Looking Up Dictionaries shows that “rat (v)” can indeed have the meaning of “desert”. Reservations withdrawn.

    But I think we’ll have to disagree re. 13D.

  7. 3D: Ohhh – mole is breakwater. I had seen MO—AT and assumed that it was moat, broken … Now I get it.

    17D: So “dibs” is marbles in Macquarie. I’d found it meaning what I would call jacks, a similar game but not marbles. That’s OK then.

    6D: Sorry, MF and others, I’d misread the clue. All good.

    Can anyone answer my questions above on 20A and 22D?

  8. 17D Gee, every school boy from the 1960s surely knows that dibs are marbles ?!
    23A Stem the flow = check the flow.
    10, 12 A RAB = back local, and the courier refers to the next part of the clue (so literal = ‘courier of 4-down load)
    13 D Presbyterians know that a font is the answer
    Mum didn’t like this DA, but I thought it was a ripper

  9. 3D think ‘moleskin trousers’ (after Tamworth recently, this is good Aussie culture)

  10. AG:
    20A: well, i can’t think of an example of one that isn’t selfish, or in fact, not driven primarily by self-interest. but selfish doesn’t seem entirely definitional, though some adjective is needed to modify protagonist, and selfish seems a good one
    22D: I assume the capitalisation is there to emphasises the clue as a series of letter, not just a word

  11. Jack Bauer is an example of an unselfish antihero.

    I knew of “playing for dibs” but I didn’t know a dib was an actual marble.

    “Easter Rabbit” is a bit forced as it is nowhere near as common as “Easter Bunny”

    “Morisco”(is this right?) violates the principle of trying to choose interesting words for answers in my opinion.

    Dove, Moro, and Boost are the lame-o second rate chocolates. But so are all the Cadbury ones now that they changed the recipe.

  12. I stand corrected. On further reflection, self-interest is just but one of many causes of the antihero condition
    Nevertheless, a selfish protagonist is an antihero, even if an antihero is not necessarily a selfish protagonist

    My confusion is the literal clue of 17A, i don’t get the “shade” part. is that a bridge term?

  13. I read it as “put into the shade.” If I bid 1 club, and you reply with 2 no trumps, that puts my bid into the shade.

  14. “shade” as in outdo; “bridge” as in the card game. If you make a higher bid than your opponents, then you have over (out) bid them i.e. you have shaded their bid.

  15. “Dibs” must be a regional thing. As a 60s schoolboy and player in country Victoria, I recall alleys, taws and agates as synonyms, and various names for specific types of marble, but never dibs.

    There was one type, small and opaque white with different-coloured patches, which we called a Queenslander. I used to wonder why it was so called, and I’m just wondering again now.

  16. Played a bit of bridge for a while but did not hear the term shade, however a google search turns up

    ” Here in the MSC, we can shade our opening bids with some shape and an easy rebid”
    “Opener does not shade his 1 NT in 3rd or 4th seat, so all sequences are unchanged”

  17. Not a bridge specific usage, just the occasional standard meaning of shade == (fractionally) outdo. DA is using it in that sense.

  18. For 17D I had thought ‘O’ was the marble, being round, and had ‘bid’ for ‘offer’, while the ‘marble, priest’ being erected, ie going up, gave ‘O,ver.’ Of course I was wrong, but got the right word anyway. Overall, I thought this was a very good DA, although, not being a chocolate eater, I had to guess some of the coatings.

  19. I17d I think that Dave R is wrong when he changed his mind. If we use the term dib then rev what are you doing with the remaining o ?

  20. 23a: Your question stems from a natural desire for truth and enlightenment.

  21. 23A: issue = offspring, progeny = STEM = stop (the flow) = check.From my dictionary.

  22. I think “issue,” “stem” and “check” here are all verbs. Flows from, issues from, stems from.

  23. Agree with Ian. All verbs.
    Check (the flow of) =stem (the flow of)
    Issue (from) = stem (from)

    11A: OPEN TEAM This surely breaks the “rule” that multiple-word answers should be in common usage. “Open Event”, “open competition” are fairly common, but “open team”?

    20A: Agree that “selfish” is not quite right.

    21A: We fight on alone, AG! Like exhaust/flag last week, suspend/hover is an example of trans/intrans mismatch. Can anyone defend it?

    26A: I have GET GO (= start). But the rest of the clue?

    18D: Very esoteric.

    19D: Never heard of Moro chocolate bar. Never heard of Morisco. But got it thanks to Google. The definition seems dodgy though. Wikipedia says a Morisco, meaning “Moor-like”, was a nominally Catholic inhabitant of Spain of Muslim heritage. The Alhambra is a “palace and fortress complex … constructed … by the Moorish rulers …”. To me, the definition seems like word association rather than a definition per se.

  24. 26A is a goodun. Start = GET GOING contract = GET GO and then contract = GET and GO ( a Japanese game) gives GETGO. Go and have another google.

  25. Didn’t quite “get” (pun not intended!) your explanation, AL. It looks like contract is doing double duty. But you’ve put me on the right track, I think. I Googled again and discovered that, as you say, GO is a Japanese game. So I now think it works like this:
    Start = GET GO (American slang)
    contract = GET (as in get/contract an illness or virus etc)
    game in Japan = GO

  26. 19d: According to Chambers, morisco as a noun means a Moor, especially a christianised one; morisco the adjective means Moorish, which the Alhambra certainly is.
    26a: Contract = get, as in “to get the swine flu, ” Go is the game, get-go is the start. No double duty. RB is right.
    20a: A selfish protagonist would be an antihero; perhaps not all antiheroes are selfish (they may be flawed in other ways) but that doesn’t stop the clue working.

  27. I’m with you on 11A, RB, but I’m willing to cut DA some slack this week given the theme.

  28. As for 21A, SUSPENDS can be intransitive and HOVERS is intransitive.

    – The gimp suspends over the table
    – The gimp hovers over the table

    I actually think this week’s is bullshit free.

  29. Sorry to be a dictionary bore, but Chambers and Collins (the usual authorities) don’t list an intransitive form of suspend. On the other hand, Macquarie does, defining it as “to come to a stop, usu. temporarily.” Close enough to hovering.

  30. 21A may have some dictionary support but I can’t remember hearing/seeing suspend used intransitively. AS’s example just doesn’t work for me. Maybe I should get out more. (I don’t even know what you mean by “gimp” in your example!)

    20A: We’ve had this sort of discussion a few times recently. I remember someone writing that cat => tiger is OK, but tiger => cat isn’t: it needs to be tiger,say => cat.

    I wasn’t previously aware of this principle but it seems sound to me: when going from the specific (selfish protagonist) to the general (antihero), the clue needs “say” or “for example”. So, on this basis, I say 20A is still dodgy!

    19D: Ian, I’ll accept Morisco = Moorish (Chambers, my copy of The Shorter Oxford, and Wikipedia all agree on that). And I’ll accept that the Alhambra is Moorish. But this clue still doesn’t work for me. It’s like saying “regarding Buckingham Palace” is an acceptable clue for “English”. Or “regarding the MCG” is OK for “Australian”.

  31. Haven’t you seen Pulp Fiction, RB? Classic film, classic gimp!

    The Google search for “suspends from the ceiling” is fruitful.

    Interesting, though, that suspends as intransitive only gets partial dictionary support.

    The Random House dictionary at certainly likes it.

    On 20A, I think that’s too stringent a condition on writing a clue. I think Etna => mountain is fine, just as I think mountain => Etna is fine.

    Morisco is often used to describe an architectural style, like so

  32. No, I haven’t (seen Pulp Fiction). I did try googling “suspends from the ceiling” just now, and got a msg asking if I meant “suspended from the ceiling”! Which doesn’t help your cause at all! And the links shown were all for suspended ceilings! You must be using a different Google!

    Re 20A and the “cat/tiger” or “general/specific” theory that was mentioned on this blog a few weeks ago (I think it was in relation to the eccentric/dag clue): I agree – it seems stringent to me too. Yet, I have the feeling it’s mostly obeyed.

    Thanks for the tip on “morisco” as architectural style. I can nearly accept it now. It’s a bit like 20A in that it’s going from the specific (Alhambra) to the general (Morisco).

  33. No I didn’t. But now I see what you mean. My first reaction is YUUUUUUCK! “The chandelier suspends from the ceiling”! Quick, pass the 22D bucket!

    This seems like another one of those recent, ugly (and probably American) usages of transitive verbs forced into an intransitive context. TV shows used to be screened; now they screen. A new show would be launched; now it launches. Someone will probably inform me that this usage was quite common in 17th century England, but until then I’ll just keep ranting.

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