Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spoonerisms (Puzzle No. 3,303)

Last week’s puzzle included a Spoonerism: a very formal bit of wordplay named for the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, who I’m sure was not nearly as susceptible to such malaprops as the legend might indicate.  I suspect that if his name had been “Smith” his occasional slips of the tongue would never have been noticed.

The best Spoonerisms span the gamut from wry to hilarious, which makes them excellent fodder for cryptic crossword cluing.  But in almost all cases, the indicator will be literal(†) .  That perhaps makes constructors perceive that Spoonerisms are too easy, and discourages the constructors from using them in their puzzles.  But you don’t have to make every clue tough to have a tough puzzle, and clever use of wordplay is just as important as making your puzzles challenging, if not more so.

Is there a Spoonerism this week?  Nope.  (I don’t think that’s a spoiler given the protocol for a literal indicator)  But there are a couple of interesting bits that make this puzzle worth your time.

†--perhaps the exception would be a puzzle themed around Spoonerisms: the indicator could be implied then.

Link to puzzle:

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): moderate, especially if you work systematically on the connected parts.  The bottom half was pretty easy, the top a little harder.

Hozom’s comment: “Pithecanthropus, You Say?”, in which Hot and Trazom respond to my Dido vs. Dido comment from a few weeks ago, debate the merits of sprinkling obscure words into puzzles, and reveal that one of our fearless constructors is not afraid of saying he doesn’t know every word in the dictionary.  I for one don’t mind a few words like these in a cryptic, as long as the cluing makes it worthwhile.  A boring clue for an obscure word makes me think the constructor was lazy, being neither willing to adjust the grid to fit a better word in nor willing to work out a more entertaining clue.

The comments could get interesting: do conservatives like George Will and William F. Buckley have a monopoly on the use of long and unusual words, or are there such writers out there who are on The Nation’s end of the political spectrum?  Pick a side and join in the debate!

Solution and annotation posted Monday.  Join us this weekend and every weekend for Sunday brunch!

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