Friday, April 16, 2010

Charlie's Many Avatars

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charlie-chaplin Charlie is a very useful word for cryptic crossword setters. It can stand for:

  1. A foolish, credulous person
    Times 23798: Charlie seeks articles in fashion (7) FATHEAD
                         A & THE (articles) in FAD (fashion)

  2. The drug Cocaine
    Guardian 24378 (Arachne): Cocaine, crack and lithium finally ruin movie star (7,7) CHARLIE CHAPLIN
                                            CHARLIE (cocaine) CHAP (crack) Li (Lithium) N (finally 'ruiN') 

  3. The letter C – Charlie is the code for C in the radio alphabet
    Guardian 24525 (Chifonie): Boat for Charlie to deliver (6) CUTTER
                                             C (Charlie) UTTER (deliver)

  4. A man's name. Usually a famous person like Parker (Charlie Parker, the American jazz saxophonist), Chaplin (the English comic actor) or a Charles from the British nobility, such as Charles Edwards Stuart  (also known as known as Bonnie Prince Charlie).

    Guardian 24936 (Brummie): Lost keys for Charlie’s temporary refuge (4) SKYE (KEYS)*
    Refers to Charles Edwards Stuart who took refuge in the Isle of Skye.

In barred grid cryptics that use lesser-known word meanings, Charlie could even be a nightwatchman (obsolete), a moustache or a fox. An example:

Azed 1975: Charlie (old-fashioned), near so-and-so, can, protecting Her Majesty (13) NIGHTWATCHMAN
                 NIGH (near) TWAT (so-and-so), CAN around HM

Solve These

THC 2491: Charlie on straight and narrow? (9)
Guardian 24175 (Paul): He won something sweet, far more than a can of coke! (7,6)
Times 23912: Charlie upset love wearing novel footwear (7)

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11 comments

Khian said...

Hi Suchi,
Regards from Malaysia. Fairly new to cryptics, and stumbled upon your blog. Excellent site, and very informative.

Charlie on straight and narrow? (9)
CONSTRICT.

Still trying to work out the others

Shuchi said...

Hi Khian,

Welcome here, and CONSTRICT is perfect!

Hint for the Guardian clue: The answer is the name of a fictional character.

C.G. BHARGAV said...

Endless charm lies bottled in this product!

Anonymous said...

24175: Charlie Bucket

Not having read the book or seen the movie, was not aware of the name, but a little googling (based on the clue you had given) helped! (Is that cheating? :-))

anokha said...

Charlie upset love wearing novel footwear (7) GUMSHOE

Charlie -> MUG
Upset -> GUM
Novel -> SHE
Love -> O

anokha said...

Coke -> CHARLIE
More than Can -> BUCKET

Shuchi said...

@Bhargav: I hope the clue does not represent your opinion of Charlie meaning #2 :P

@Anonymous: I google a lot myself :) I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as I was curious to know what Roald Dahl wrote for kids - his stories for adults were so macabre! The wicked streak is palpable even in his children's books, I must say. A very compelling writer.

@anokha: Bravo! Is there any clue you cannot solve?

anokha said...

Yeah, MANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Khian said...

Shuchi,
Charlie upset love wearing novel footwear (7)

Isn't it a tad unfair to use an indirect anagram? MUG(*) => GUM
And, what about novel => SHE ?

I can live with Hardy girl, or Haggard novel, but there are literally thousands and thousands of novels.

Please can I have your view, for who am I to question the mighty crossword editors of the Times?

Thanks.

Shuchi said...

Hi Khian,

GUM is MUG reversed, not an indirect anagram. That's fair.

Novel = SHE is such a cliché that I think it makes the clue too easy than too tough. Of the many novels that exist only the popular ones with short names get used in daily puzzle wordplay. That narrows the scope considerably. Haggard novel won't work for the surface in any case. All in all I don't mind novel = SHE at all.

Khian said...

Thanks Shuchi. Still got a lot to learn, methinks.