Crossed Wires May 2011
Three words that sound the same, but have different spellings. Can you tell the words from these definitions?
1: A mark like this ^ to indicate a missing letter or word in a text
2: A unit of weight, equal to 200 milligrams
3: An offer of something enticing as a means of persuasion
Can you match up the collector with the items he collects?
By A Whisker
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Crossed Wires April 2011
Wills and Kate
“When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen..” as the song goes. Titles of kings and queens sometimes crop up as crossword clues, so here’s some royal trivia.William and Kate will be tying the knot this month and her surname will officially be Windsor. Kate will be known as Catherine but royals don’t use last names, so Kate won’t be signing herself Catherine Windsor. Prince William and Prince Harry both use Wales as a surname in the military. Their grandfather, Prince Philip, was born a prince of Greece and Denmark but gave up his rights to those thrones when he married then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947. His surname Mountbatten is an anglicised version of his mother’s. A greatgranddaughter of Queen Victoria, she was Princess Alice of Battenberg (a German title) when she married Prince Andrew of Greece. On his marriage, Philip was created Duke of Edinburgh. The wife of the British king automatically becomes the queen. That means Kate will one day become England’s sixth Queen Catherine. The others: Catherine of Valois, Catherine of Aragon, Katherine Howard, Katherine Parr and Catherine of Braganza.
Lovatts puzzler Robert Wallace enjoys solving our crosswords and recently received two prizes on the same day.
Here he is, showing his Collins Atlas and his $50 cheque, for two different competitions.
His daughters Julyan and Beth have told us that he was very jubilant at his double win.
It’s a great achievement, especially as Robert is 94 years old.
Though April showers may come your way, They bring the flowers that bloom in May. So if it’s raining, have no regrets, Because it isn’t raining rain, you know, (It’s raining violets,) The name April comes from the Latin aprilis and may be derived from the Latin aperire ‘to open’ referring to the season when flowers and trees begin to open (in the northern hemisphere). Some people consider that the name April may come from Apru, an Etruscan version of the Greek fertility goddess Aphrodite. In Finland, April is called Huhtikuu, or Burnwood Month, from the days when the wood for beat and burn clearing of farmland was felled. In the North Frisian language, April is called gjarsmoune which means ‘grass month’. In Polish, it is Kwiecien (flowers) meaning ‘a blooming month’.
St George was born in Lod, which is now in Israel but was then part of the Roman Empire. He was a Christian soldier in the guard of Emperor Diocletian. When the emperor insisted that all soldiers renounce Christianity, George refused and was tortured and beheaded. He died on 23rd April 303 CE which is now St George’s Day in England. He’s the patron saint of many countries, including England.
appears every month in Christine’s BIG Crossword magazine.
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Crossed Wires March 2011
A Penny For Your Thoughts
Which of the following countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Serbia or Tunisia has the dinar as its currency?
The answer is all of them.
The dinar sometimes crops up in our crosswords, and may be clued as Middle East currency. It comes from the Roman coin denarius which means 10 asses. Not the donkey but the bronze coin known as an as, used by the ancient Romans. It later became a copper coin. When we had pounds, shillings and pence, and they were depicted as £S D, the d for penny was short for denarius.
The Bible refers to the denarius as a day’s wage for a common labourer.
Sticky By George!
Swiss engineer George de Mestral was walking his dogs in the hills of Commugny in Switzerland in 1941 when he made a discovery and then an invention that has become widely used in our everyday lives. He noticed that burrs from burdock (a thistle) clung to his clothes and to the dogs’ fur and examined them close-up. He found that many small hooks were catching onto the weave of his clothes and set about inventing a synthetic hook-and-eye material.
He named it velours croché , hooked velvet, which eventually was shortened to velcro.
Nuts or Knots
The old children’s song “Here we go gathering nuts in May” is a mystery because nuts are not ready to be picked until autumn. The most likely explanation is that is should be “knots of May” ie bunches of May flowers.
Expressions Of Interest
Back-channel signal: a noise, gesture or word used to show you’re paying attention to a speaker.
Cupertino effect: your spell checker’s habit of suggesting inappropriate words to replace misspelled words. The term comes from the spelling of cooperation which was often changed to Cupertino if the hyphen was left out. Cupertino is the suburban city in California that is home to the worldwide headquarters of Apple, Inc.
Garden-path sentence: a temporarily confusing sentence that leads the reader to a mistaken interpretation as the sentence is being processed. “She had a boyfriend with a wooden leg, but broke it off. “To be led down the garden path’ is to deceive or trick someone.
Historical present: the use of a verb phrase in the present tense to refer to an event that took place in the past. This is often used at the beginning of a joke, for example “A grasshopper walks into a bar.
What never asks questions but requires frequent answers?
What can you catch but not throw?
What is always coming but never arrives?
What goes up but never comes down?
CROSSED WIRES appears every month in Christine’s BIG Crossword magazine.
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Creature Feature - 192
Crocodile tears refers to an insincere display of emotion. This ancient expression, which was used in ancient Rome, comes from an ancient anecdote that crocodiles weep in order to lure their prey, or that they cry for the victims they are eating. It may come from the fact that when crocodiles have their mouths open, eating or basking in the sun, the jaw puts pressure on the tear glands, causing them to shed tears. But theyre certainly not tears of remorse for their victims!
An elephant never forgets is close to the truth apparently. The ancient Greeks used to say ‘a camel never forgets an injury’ but the working elephant memorises multiple commands given by the mahout, or trainer, and also recognises many other animals and people. The 1954 film Elephant Walk demonstrates the memory of the elephants who walk the same route every year and are enraged when humans have built their home in its path.
Bee’s Knees - 191
Extract from Crossed Wires BIG 191
A reader recently wrote to tell us she thought our puzzle magazines were the bee’s knees, which was nice to hear.
‘The bee’s knees’ is a phrase used to describe an excellent or ideally suitable person or thing.
The exact origin of this phrase is uncertain. One story is that it came from ‘b’s and e’s’, short for ‘be-all and end-all’ (a corruption of ‘business’). A second explanation alludes to the goodness of the pollen stored in the sacs on a bee’s legs for transport back to the hive. Another possible origin relates to Bee Jackson who was a World Champion Charleston dancer in the 1920s.
The cat’s whiskers also means an excellent person or thing and the ant’s pants is similar. It means either the height of fashion; or a high opinion of oneself, as in ’she thinks she’s the ant’s pants‘. The origin of this one is unknown, but may come from ‘having ants in your pants’ which means you’re restless and can’t sit down.
Let’s hope no-one describes our magazines as a dog’s breakfast.
Give Us A Clue - 191
Thanks for all your clues for bedrock and motive. More than one of you clued bedrock as home of the Flintstones, fundamentals, basics, hard mattress and solid foundation.
For motive, many of you offered reason, cause, incitement and purpose. I liked Psychology which arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal and Investigator’s dilemma in solving a crime but unfortunately we’ve got to fit them into a small space in a crossword. The book prize this month goes to May Burgemeister with the way and wherefore for motive. All the entries can be seen online at www.youplay.com\blogs
Your next challenge is to find original, short clues for chivalry and frumpy
Christmas Traditions - 190
Here are some interesting facts about the traditions of Christmas:
The Christmas cracker is 161 years old this year. It was invented by English baker Tom Smith, who first sold wrapped sweets and added mottoes into the wrappers. When he heard the crackle of a log in the fire, he was inspired to invent the crack of the banger, a strip of paper impregnated with chemicals, which would crack when opened. Sweets were replaced with small gifts and the first Christmas crackers went on sale in London in 1847. Witty sayings or jokes were added and Tom Smith’s son Walter included paper hats.
The Candy Cane goes back 338 years to Germany. In Cologne Cathedral back in 1670, the choirmaster was nervous because the young children attending the nativity pageant were become restless, so he gave them a white candy stick bent into the shape of a shepherd’s crook. This was a popular move and became a tradition throughout Europe.
Kissing under the mistletoe is much older than that. It’s been a popular Christmas pastime from ancient times, when the Druids regarded it as a fertility herb and a remedy against poisons. It was considered to be a cause of wonder for a parasitic plant, because it remained green throughout the winter while the tree it grew on did not. It’s found in all parts of Australia except Tasmania, and all around New Zealand. So find a sprig, stand under it, close your eyes and see what happens.
Saint Andrew - 189
The last day of November is the feast day of St Andrew, a Jewish fisherman from Bethsaida and younger brother of St Peter. Obviously popular internationally, he’s the patron saint of Scotland, Russia, Romania, Greece, Amalfi, and Luqa in Malta. The Scottish flag features St Andrew’s X-shaped cross.
The name Andrew comes from the Greek Andreia meaning ‘manhood’ or ‘valour’ and is often shortened to Andy or Drew. Other versions of Andrew are Andre (eg. US tennis ace Andre Agassi and Dutch violinist André Rieu), Anders or Andreja.
I find the name Andrew very useful when creating cryptic clues because it has three anagrams, wander, warden and warned.
Both Sydney and Melbourne have a suburb called St Andrews. New Zealand also has a town in south Canterbury and a Hamilton suburb called St Andrews.
Hiss And Pant?
With all the coughing and sneezing going on in the office, I looked into the origins of these words, and found that cough comes from German keuchen ‘to pant’ and wheeze from Old Norse hvaesa ‘to hiss’.
Hiccup, once called hicket or hyckock, is named after the sound of the hiccup. It was previously known by the Old English aelfsogoda because hiccups were once thought to be caused by elves.
Reader Merle Ellis recently queried our spelling of hiccup, because she thought it should be spelled hiccough. Both spellings are correct, but the latter came about by being mistakenly associated with ‘cough’.
Hiccup has a secondary meaning, a temporary setback. To cough it up also means to own up or to pay up.
To sneeze at, as well as saying atishoo, also means to regard as of little value.