Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Let's hear it for the dear old queen -- er, I mean queer old dean. Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930) was dean and president of Oxford College. Even before he became famous for the tips of the slung -- sorry, slips of the tongue -- that now bear his name, he had a reputation for absent-mindedness. An Anglican priest, he returned to the pulpit at the conclusion of one sermon to announce "In the sermon I have just preached, whenever I said Aristotle, I meant St. Paul."

Spoonerisms are transpositions of the opening letters of two words in a phrase. As I mentioned earlier this week, my blogging time is limited this week, so I'm going to steal the following from a 1995 issue of Reader's Digest:

Reverend Spooner's tendency to get words and sounds crossed up could happen at any time, but especially when he was agitated. He reprimanded one student for "fighting a liar in the quadrangle" and another who "hissed my mystery lecture." To the latter he added in disgust, "You have tasted two worms."
Patriotic fervour excited Spooner as well. He raised his toast to Her Highness Victoria: "Three cheers for our queer old dean!" Du
ring WWI he reassured his students, "When our boys come home from France, we will have the hags flung out." And he lionised Britain's farmers as "noble tons of soil."
His goofs at chapel were legendary. "Our Lord is a shoving leopard," he once intoned. He quoted 1 Corinthians 13:12 as, "For now we see through a dark, glassly..." Officiating at a wedding, he prompted a hesitant bridegroom, "Son, it is now kisstomary to cuss the bride." And to a stranger seated in the wrong place: "I believe you're occupewing my pie. May I sew you to another sheet?"
Did Spooner really say, "Which of us has not felt in his heart a half-warmed fish?" he certainly could have – he was trying to say half-formed wish
Lederer offers these other authentic spoonerisms: At a naval review Spooner marvelled at "this vast display of cattle ships and bruisers." To a school official's secretary: "Is the bean dizzy?" Visiting a friend's country cottage: "You have a nosey little crook here."
Thanks to Reverend Spooner's style-setting somersaults, our own little tips of the slung will not be looked upon as the embarrassing babblings of a nitwit, but rather the whimsical lapses of a nimble brain. So let us a
pplaud that gentle man who lent his tame to the nerm. May sod rest his goal.

SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. New York Sun puzzles are every bit as fun and challenging as the more well-known New York Times and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. If you'd like to read about an unbiased head-to-head competition between the Sun and the Times puzzles check this out. Or if you're ready to decide for yourself you can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

As you might can tell from the title of Kelsey Blakley's "Serving Spoonerisms" all the metatheses in this puzzle are food-related. ("Metatheses" by the way are what these were called before the good reverend made them his own. It's from the Greek for "transpositions.")

17A: Bread spread for someone who's hungry enough to eat a horse? (COLT BUTTER) nee "bolt cutter" and that's the last one I'm going to do for you.

34A: Bun eaten every day? (HABIT ROLL) If I was going to eat a bun every day I would want the garlic and cheese biscuits from Red Lobster. Man, those are good. Even before I learned to appreciate seafood I loved going to the Crimson Crustacean (as my beloved and I call Red Lobster) just for the biscuits. All the recipes I can find for it use Bisquick, which I doubt is the case in the restaurant, but here's one that will give you an approximation anyway.

38A: Acrid smoked salmon (BITTER LOX) I don't think the Sun uses the same "breakfast table" standards as the Times, but it begs the question: If "litter box" is unacceptable, is the spoonerized version okay?

54A: Mealy bisque (GRITTY SOUP) My favorite soup -- by far -- is split pea -- hold the grit, please. It goes great with garlic and biscuits, by the way.

10D: Dish for a Hawaiian braggart? (BOASTER POI) As every crossworder knows, poi is made from taro. I've never had any -- and as any fan of spilt-pea soup knows, you can't judge a food by how it looks -- but poi looks disgusting -- grey and goopy.

26D: Side dish that can be tootled (FLUTE FRIES) This is my favorite of the serving Spoonerisms. You don't see them that often where it's the second letter that is transposed.

Other food-drink-cooking entries in the grid (albeit non-Spoonerized) include 22A: Bit for Flicka (OAT) 41A: Like a pumpless well (ARTESIAN) 43A: Gleason's role in "The Hustler" (FATS) 44A: Course that's an easy A (GUT) 60A: Genoese cuisine sauce (PESTO) 51D: Covers (LIDS) 25D: Budge (STIR) the clue for 13D: Head cheese? (EXEC) and 39D: 1996 Phillip Kerr technothriller (ESAU) who, again as all crossworders know, sold his birthright for a mess of poi -- or pottage or something.

Other entries of interest: 31D: Golda's successor as Israeli foreign minister (ABBA) and 32D: Eban's predecessor of Israeli foreign minister (MEIR) That's pretty impressive. I like the way they line up visually as well as historically and the way they give each other way -- if you know your Israeli history.

48D: "Safe!" crackers (UMPS) Love the baseball clues.

40A: What McCall's was renamed (ROSIE) Right before it was buried beneath tons of ego. Remember when Rosie O'Donnell had that daytime talk-show and everybody loved her cuz she was so nice. What happened to her?

48A: Herb's daughter in the comic strip "Herb and Jamaal" (UHURA) I'm only vaguely aware of this strip. Is she named after Star Trek's communications officer? (Probably, how many other Uhuras are there?)

5A: 2000 JT Leroy novel (SARAH) Of course, there actually is no JT Leroy. It was all part of a hoax by writer Laura Albert and her friend Savannah Knoop. Although Albert and Knoop still refer to it as a "veil" and not a hoax.

That's all for today. Have a good Thursday.


Pete M said...

48A is UHURU, UHURA. You have it correct in the puzzle, but incorrect in the blog. So I doubt there's any link to the Star Trek character.

Pete M said...

I seem to be missing a "not" in there... not UHURA.

Sorry. :)

kratsman said...

I remember a novel in the early 60's titled "Uhuru." I just now looked it up...written by Robert Ruark. Can't remember the story...just the title and the graphic cover.

Austin said...

Wow. I did terrible today. Only finished about half. Don't think tomorrow will be any better, haha.

Can you explain how "Course that's an easy A" is GUT? I had GYM and it threw me off something terrible.

Norrin2 said...

"Gut course" is an old-fashioned slang term for a class that didn't require much in the way of study. I have no idea why it was called "gut."