Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cryptic, Craptic, Craptacular!

The closest I get to finishing a cryptic crossword is by starting it. I pick up a cryptic, and in two hours, I've finished a grand total of one word (if I'm lucky), and probably got that one wrong (if I'm lucky). I find the damn things infuriating: I don't know how anyone can do them. Pretty much the only reason I published a cryptic crossword on this website a month ago was to infuriate my readers. If I can alienate one reader a day, I'm happy.

So anyway, I was walking along the street with my nose stuck in a Lovatt's cryptic book today, merrily causing the usual screeching cars and traffic collisions, and getting more and more incensed as I read the clues.

8. Brown boy included in study of plants.

That one turned out to be 'Botany'. Okay, so study of plants is 'Botany'. 'Brown' is 'Tan'. But 'Boy' is not to be found 'in' the word 'Botany', though you could possibly - if you were a pervert, a blackguard or a person who compiled cryptic crosswords for a living - say that the 'Boy' was 'around Brown'. It's a stupid clue, and doesn't make sense!

Also, apparently:

24. Drunken central European pedestrian becomes circus performer.

This is 'Tightrope Walker'. 'Rope' is at the centre of 'Europe', you see, and 'Walker' is pedestrian, but what pun or colloquialism am I missing out on that makes 'Tight' mean 'Drunk'?

These weren't the worst, either. 'Spooner conned Dee with beast of burden' was craptacular; the Spoonerism they were looking out for, it turned out, was 'Donkey'. 'Conned Dee' turns into 'Donkey'? Get it? Neither do I. It's the worst pun I've ever read; obviously the guys who wrote this thing couldn't get a job at Channel Ten's 'The Wedge'.

This clue, however, made me shout out loud at its stupidity:

26. Mass emigration from Biblical book.

Not that it was hard - it was easy. Mass emigration, that's 'exodus'. Biblical book, well, that's 'Exodus' too. But why bother jamming the two together? That's not a cryptic clue, it's two normal clues put together in an inelegant fashion to piss the reader off.

Grrr. Grrrr! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

By the way, twelve across: 'Manner of speaking during childbirth'. (As if any mother would be mannered during childbirth...) It's eight letters. Any suggestions?


nailpolishblues said...

what pun or colloquialism am I missing out on that makes 'Tight' mean 'Drunk'?

I don't know the origins but it's been around for a hell of a long time. And you can imagine that I've got one or two little drunk type phrases shoved up my little sleeve.

colonel eggroll said...

I must be doing the elementary version of the crossword. It's the one in the local newspaper, next to the funnies. It boasts clues like "Estevez of young guns" or "head you find at a bar". If I attempted to do one of these cryptic crosswords, I would surely scream.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I find you quite funny. :)

Ben.H said...

I gave up on cryptic crosswords when I read this guy going off about how super awesome they are, oh and you have to remember that "actor" = "tree".

I still remember my little sister doing the SA TV Radio Extra crossword:
"Hmmm, 12 across: The Flying N _ _ .... I know! NUT."

Jo said...

Jeez - first Redcap says bad stuff about Hammond organs, and now this!

Your first mistake is doing any Lovatt's crossword ever. In the bin immediately, and go and get The Age. Except for DA, the Friday bastard.

And the manner of speaking/childbirth one - how many letters is it, please?

I'm really very rock n' roll.

TimT said...

I went for a job at Lovatt's once. Which is to say, they didn't have a job, but I sent a letter into them anyway. I'd compiled a few crosswords at the time (not cryptic, just quick) and sent them in. They use computers to generate the crosswords, and have a team of thirty or so compilers to edit the results. It's probably all very industrial and boring.

If I ever pursue crossword compiling as a career option, I could rise all the way to the dizzy heights of That's Life! magazine, the Newcastle Herald 'Summer Holiday Fun Pack!' book, or hawking my latest crosswords on a Melbourne street corner to gullible passers-by.

Not that I'm knocking That's Life...

Mitzy G Burger said...

In Hemingway's book about the guy who had his dick shot off the slang word for drunk is "tight". I think the book was "Fiesta" or "the sun also rises"...a bullfighting story.

Caz said...


But that's not even a little bit cryptic and would be most likely to result in a violent response, if offered during childbirth.

Yes - "tight" is common, but not much in use these days.

"Tired and emotional" is the new "tight".

Tony.T said...

The encryption devices used by setters are not that numerous and, with a bit of practice, easy to spot. There are "charades", where the clue builds up the syllables of the answer ("Sort of butter made from vegetable and fruit (6)" = PEA + NUT); anagrams, where letters in a word or phrase have to be rearranged ("Cruel twist - a source of pain (5)" requires CRUEL to be "twisted" into ULCER); clues where the letters of the answer are hidden in the clue itself ("Next race yields a bonus (5)" producing EXTRA from nEXT RAce); and other clues that indicate that single letters have to be included or deleted, or that a pun or homophone is involved.

He obviously hasn't done the Age crossword, which loves its broken raga mans.

TimT said...

Thanks for that handy guide, Tony. I can confirm that I was a tad tired and emotional last night. By the way, the letters for 'Manner of speaking during childbirth' are:

- E - I - E - Y.

I have every second letter, in other words. I doubt that I've made a mistake, as every other clue on the crossword (bar one, on the opposite side of the box) has been figured out.

Caz said...

Oh, jeez: it's not "delivery", is it?

TimT said...

Caz scores! Another one of those 'two clues jammed together'.

Steve said...

Re: "tight". I heard Bette Midler tell one of her ribald jokes about how she woke up after a wild party and found she was in bed with an elephant. She sits up and says "God, I must have been tight last night," and the elephant makes that "er" sound that means "so-so". (I think she might have done that palm-down hand wave with the sound...I heard it on the radio.)

The point is, I think this has always been a more common term in America.

TimT said...

You know, it doesn't really have to have a point...

nailpolishblues said...

Is there ever one?

Maria said...

BO "tan" Y - brown boy, study of plants, though shouldn't that be brown included "in" boy which looks like the study of plants?

I'm confuzzed. Actually when you said "TAN" was brown, I actually thought of TAN = brown boy, as in TAN was an Asian surname. Though isn't that yellow boy?

These cryptics have lost me. I wouldn't have got even one word.

Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive