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Crazy Crossword Clues

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Should youngsters learn cursive handwriting in school? Plus, someone can be ruthless, but can that same person be ruthful? Which word refers to something larger, humongous or gargantuan? Also, funny newspaper corrections, a crossword quiz, Texas idioms, and a version of Three Blind Mice with an upgraded vocabulary.
This episode first aired June 16, 2012.
Newspaper Mistakes

 Even the best newspaper reporters make mistakes. Here’s an unfortunately funny correction about the My Little Pony character a young woman thinks about to cheer herself up. Another correction from the Centralia Morning Sentinel notes that a member of a Christian rock band was on, um, drums, not drugs.

Sidewalk Dodge

 What do you call that moment when you try to walk past someone on the sidewalk, but you both move in the same direction? Perhaps slidewalking, doing the sidewalk boogie, or stranger dancing? Martha votes for polkadodge.

Hundred-Mile Tape

 In the military, a certain kind of duct tape is known as hundred-mile-per-hour tape because it can withstand 100-mph speeds.


 Someone can be ruthless, but can that person be ruthful? Ruthful is indeed a word that derives from an old definition of ruth meaning “the quality of being compassionate.” But unpaired negatives, like ruthless, unkempt, uncouth, or disgruntled, are common words that lack positive correlatives in common speech.

Newspaper Miscorrection

 A middle-school librarian caught the Arkansas Democrat Gazette messing up the title of the second book in the Hunger Games series. The newspaper then issued an abject apology.

Crossword Pun Clues

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski has lifted some tricky puns from New York Times crossword puzzles for this word game. What’s “a green org,” in three letters? How about a three-letter answer for “peas keeper”?

Sesquipedalian Songs

 It seems there’s a sesquipedalian version to the classic “Three Blind Mice” folk rhyme about a trio of rodents with impaired vision. Need a visual yourself? Try this one.

Should Schools Teach Cursive Writing?

 Should educators continue to teach cursive writing in school? For the sake of learning to read old documents and honing their hand-eye skills, many say “yes.” Most current teaching standards, however, require only keyboard training, not longhand.

Let the Rain Settle It

 Owe somebody money? How about you charge it to the dust and let the rain settle it? This is a useful idiom for friendly transactions where no payment is necessary.

A Stepper Like You

 “It ain’t no hill for a stepper like you,” is a popular idiom in the South meaning someone can finish the task at hand.

Battle Buddies

 In the Army, a battle buddy is someone assigned to be your constant companion, and it’s often shortened to just “battle.” Other words, like Upstate and cell, as in a mobile phone, have dropped the nouns they modified.

Humongous vs. Gargantuan

 Which word is larger, humongous or gargantuan? Which refers to something larger? Grant and Martha agree with usage expert Bryan Garner that the word gargantuan is the larger of the two.

A Dull Wife

 A correction in London’s Daily Mail notes that a Mr. Smith testified in court that he had “a dull life,” not “a dull wife.” Oops.


 In Jamaica, the youngest child is commonly known as the wash-belly. In addition to being the youngest, the term can also connote that the wash-belly is lazy and spoiled. Frederic Cassidy traces this and other terms in his Dictionary of Jamaican English and Jamaica Talk.

A Correction Correcting A Correction

 Craig Silverman’s book Regret the Error contains a maze of a correction that simply corrects an incorrect correction. You can also follow more recent collections of corrections on his blog at the Poynter Institute.

Photo by RBerteig. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Episode

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Dictionary of Jamaican English by Frederic Cassidy
Jamaica Talk by Frederic Cassidy
Regret the Error by Craig Silverman

Music Used in the Episode

Bang BangMonophonicsIn Your BrainUbiquity Records
Reach Out, I’ll Be ThereLee MosesTime And PlaceCastle Music
Golden DunesThe Budos BandThe Budos Band III Daptone Records
PicturesMcCoy TynerThe GreetingFantasy Records
Crimson SkiesThe Budos BandThe Budos Band IIIDaptone Records
River SerpentineThe Budos BandThe Budos Band III Daptone Records
NaimaMcCoy TynerThe Greeting Fantasy Records
Budos DirgeThe Budos BandThe Budos Band IIIDaptone Records
Leslie LoveI Mark 4Psych Beat, Volume 1Poliedizioni Records
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffElla FitzgeraldElla Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song BookVerve

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