Christmas is fast approaching, so here is the first of two crosswords with a suitably seasonal theme. Click here to download a PDF version with solution, and here for an interactive web version which should work on smartphones and tablets. Have fun!
LYRICS Ohhh Ohhh ... Yeahhh I almost tore your hair out for the last doll in the store But the things that once divided us don’t matter any more We showed up at your house again, singing all our stupid songs Normally I’d hose you down, but now it just seems wrong Let’s come together at Christmas time put all our differences aside One thing on which we all agree, the delicious taste of KFC Typically I hate your guts and I tried to kill you but One of everybody’s vices is 11 herbs and spices Ohhh whooo hooo ... seasoned meat I scream and cry and then I leave a wet spot on your knee But this year your behavior doesn’t bother me Our over-zealous snowball fight will cost you hundreds in repairs And though we’d usually sue your parents, now we just don’t care Let’s come together at Christmas time putting all our differences aside Because one of everybody’s vices is 11 herbs and spices Eleven months a year you drive me mad, this year you don’t seem so bad One thing on which we all agree, the delicious taste of KFC Let’s come together at Christmas time putting all our differences aside Because one of everybody’s vices is 11 herbs and spices Eleven months a year you drive me mad, this year you don’t seem so bad One thing on which we all agree, the delicious taste of KFC
COMMENT It's nice to see that a major brand like KFC can poke fun at themselves (and the traditional Xmas TV commercial). Mind you, it doesn't change the fact that the food is crap.
BACKGROUND Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos says. The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, he said. However, he added that it could take up to five years for the service to start. Read more >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Paul Thomas from the Daily Express shows a drone delivering presents in a huge Christmas stocking to a couple of children. The girl comments to her brother, "Santa delivering presents by drone does rather dull the magic!"
VOCABULARY To dull something is to make it to become or to make it less intense, bright, or lively. • The endless rain seemed to dull all sound. • Share prices and trading have been dulled by worries over the war.
COMMENT Amazon's drone delivery project would make a great topic for a lesson. There are already loads of videos on YouTube and plenty of articles available (see below for a selection).
BACKGROUND Today is Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States. The term "Cyber Monday" was created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online. The term made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a Shop.org press release entitled "'Cyber Monday Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year". Cyber Monday has become an international marketing term used by online retailers in Canada, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, Chile, Colombia, Ireland, Japan, and China.
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Paul Thomas from the Daily Express shows Santa Claus standing in the snow outside his workshop. He tells two of his elves, "Could be a quiet year — everybody's buying presents online."
EXPLANATION Santa won't be very busy making and delivering presents this year because more and more people are buying from internet retailers such as Amazon. However, you could argue that since people don't buy presents from Santa either, it shouldn't make much difference. Perhaps that's the joke?
GRAMMAR Note that 'everybody' takes a singular verb. • Is everybody ready?
VOCABULARY The little bird with the red breast just to the left of Santa is a robin. And can you spot the fox's tail?
This cartoon by Mac from The Daily Mail relates to news that a diplodocus skeleton, which is believed to be one of only six relatively complete specimens in the world, has sold at auction in West Sussex for £400,000. The 17m-long (56ft) dinosaur, known as 'Misty', was dug out of a quarry in Wyoming, US, before being assembled in Rotterdam and transferred to the UK for sale. It had been expected to make between £400,000 and £600,000. The identity of the buyer is not known. Watch video of auction >>
The cartoon shows a very rich couple in their palatial home. It's Christmas time and the Christmas tree is surrounded by presents — including one with a large bow around it that looks suspiciously like a diplodocus ... The man tells his wife, "Promise now — no peeking". Do I really need to explain?
VOCABULARY If you peek at something, you to look at it quickly and secretly because you should not be looking at it. • She peeked at the audience from behind the curtain.
GRAMMAR Note the use of the gerund ("no peeking") in place of the imperative ("don't peek"). You also find this construction on negative notices such as "No Parking" or "No Fishing".
No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a hearty helping of cheap, cheap meat. This seasonal spot from Price Chopper has some fun with the reputation that discount grocers have long had for stocking less-than-prime cuts ... (via AdFreak)
TRANSCRIPT BOY: What's for the big meal, Mom? MOM: Well, I thought I'd make us ... some cheap meat! GIRL: Yay, I love cheap meat. MOM: We'll start with cheap cheese on cheap crackers, then cheap cranberry sauce. YOUNG GIRL: With cheap yams? MOM: Of course I have cheap yams. And for dessert, the cheapest pie we've ever had. GRANDDAD: My daughter's the cheapest. MOM: I learned from the best. VOICEOVER: Don't settle for cheap. At Price Chopper you never have to lower your standards to get low prices. Price Chopper. All the best for the holidays.
COMMENT Lots of useful language in this short 30-second commercial: superlatives, irregular past tense, vocabulary, and a play on words in the final slogan.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Just in time for the holidays, the top ten toys for the Christmas season in the UK is out. A panel of toy experts has named those gadgets and games most likely to show up on Britain's girls' and boys' wish lists. Over half of them will ring in under £25 making this a more affordable Christmas says the Toy Retailers Association's Andrea Abbis. ANDREA ABBIS: "We've got some amazing products this year, the highlight is the flying fairy. This is a fairy that actually flies, no strings attached, and when you see it working and see the children's eyes light up it just really brings the magic to life." Also expected to be in demand, Texter the back flipping puppy, which had eleven year-old Shakeera Riddell-Morales smitten. SHAKEERA RIDDEL-MORALES: "You can treat it like a normal dog and it will react to everything that you do. You can stroke it and feed him and there's an app you can download on the iPad to control him and make him do other cool things." REPORTER: The Robo Fishbowl meanwhile was a favorite of eight year-old Dexter Cumblerland. DEXTER CUMBERLAND: "I like the fish because they light up, I can put them next to my bed and stuff and they light up in the dark." REPORTER: Other toys that are apt to see brisk sales: Monopoly Empire where you buy companies like Microsoft instead of properties, Furby Boom, a new Furby injected with updated technology and for the sharpshooters out there, the Nerf N-Strike Elite rifle.
COMMENT Whatever happened to train sets and Meccano?
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: About 250 anti-austerity campaigners occupied Westminster Bridge near the UK houses of parliament for a heated protest. They lit a fire fuelled with giant energy bills to highlight the impact of rising living costs and falling wages. Tuesday's event coincided with Britain's traditional Bonfire Night commemorating a plot in 1605 to blow up the House of Lords. OWEN JONES, WRITER AND ACTIVIST FOR THE PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY: "The big six energy companies are effectively holding consumers across the country to ransom. They've hiked energy prices by up to over ten per cent in many cases at a time of the longest fall in living standards since Queen Victoria sat on the throne of this country. It's going to drive nine million people into fuel poverty, it's going to kill elderly people as well." REPORTER: In a separate protest in the same area demonstrators aligned with the hacktivist movement Anonymous were also on the march. The protest erupted in scuffles with police outside a fast food restaurant. The demonstrators said they were taking part in the Million Mask March which led to similar demonstrations around the globe the same day.
It's Guy Fawkes Day today and Bonfire Night tonight in the UK, so here's a crossword to mark the occasion. Click here to download a PDF version with solution, and here for an interactive online version for mobile devices. For Guy Fawkes Day resources from previous years, click here.
In the cartoon, an NSA spy wearing a stereotypical spy outfit (raincoat and headphones) has just been turned away from a house marked 'Allies' (a reference the the USA's 'friends' in Europe). The woman is Angela Merkel (whose mobile phone was tapped by the NSA). The man, who is holding out of bowl of candy, tells the spy, "Worst Halloween costume ever", to which the latter replies, "I can still hear you!" Note the Jack o' Lantern (carved pumpkin) on the steps.
COMMENT It's not clear (to me anyway) whether the spy says "I can still hear you" because the couple might think he can't hear because he's wearing headphones, or whether it's because he is bugging their house. The fact that the headphones don't appear to be plugged in to anything makes me think the former. But I may be wrong.
GRAMMAR 'Worst' is the irregular superlative form of 'bad'. Not to be confused with 'worse', which is the comparative form. • This is the worst movie I've ever seen. It's even worse than Scary Movie 5.
Americans find unusual ways to celebrate autumn with pumpkin festivals and competitions. Tara Cleary reports.
TRANSCRIPT Pumpkins are big in the U.S. in October. They represent the autumn harvest and, of course, Halloween, the season of pumpkin carving. These Florida scuba divers' recipe for an easy cut is: soak pumpkin in salt water before carving. And if your squashes are too big even to carve, then why not use them as racing vessels? But it seems cutting isn't forceful enough for these Colorado folks, who decided to fling their pumpkins into submission. Happy Halloween!
TRIVIA NOTE Scuba is an acronym for 'self-contained underwater breathing apparatus'.
With Halloween just a week away, I thought I'd post this crossword early rather than waiting for the actual day. As usual, you can download a PDF version, or access an interactive web version (the one below doesn't work on some mobile devices). See here for a list of Halloween resources from previous years, and here for some simpler (but vastly inferior!) Halloween crosswords.
In the cartoon, President Obama is telling a little boy, "We turned up nothing. I'd just go with the standard Father's Day 'New Tie." Behind him, we can see an NSA intelligence officer spying on the boy's father, who is sitting in front of the TV eating popcorn (the TV is bugged).
EXPLANATION We are meant to assume that the boy asked the President to use Prism to get some intelligence regarding what present he could give his father for Father's Day. However, they discovered nothing, so Obama suggests the boy just give him a tie, which is the classic Father's Day fall-back present.
VOCABULARY 1. Turn up is a phrasal verb meaning to find. • Our efforts to trace him turned up nothing. 2. If you go with something, you decide or agree to accept it. • A 10% discount? I think we can go with that.
In a nod to Easter, this cartoon by Adams from The Telegraph portrays North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a boiled egg. The title of the cartoon "Bad Egg" is a play on words since a bad egg is someone who behaves in a bad or dishonest way. • He's a bad egg - don't believe anything he says.
BACKGROUND US military drills in South Korea have prompted a fresh round of threats from North Korea in the past week, with leader Kim Jong-un ordering that the military be on standby to hit the US mainland with missiles. The isolated communist state stepped up its pugnacious rhetoric still further yesterday by warning Seoul that the Korean Peninsula was entering "a state of war".
A chocolate Easter egg standing 3-feet (0.91 meters) tall sells for $1,000 in New York. Sharon Reich reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: This is one grand Easter egg. The 3-foot-tall Angry Birds-inspired confection is on sale at a New York chocolatier for one thousand dollars. Sugar and Plumm owner Lamia Jacobs. LAMIA JACOBS: "The work itself, to prepare the leaves, and the little birds, and the tree. I mean, all these things, that's what they do. It takes about four days to work on that, two people." REPORTER: And that's not surprising, considering the egg weighs 22 pounds. Crafted of dark Venezuelan chocolate, it's a delight that is catching the eyes of passers-by. LAMIA JACOBS: "The children, have you seen how each one walks in, and say, 'Oh my God, I want that egg'? So it just makes us happy to see that it appeals to them, and the parents too look happy." REPORTER: Believe it or not, some people are willing to spend one thousand dollars on the giant piece of chocolate. Sugar and Plumm have already sold two of the Angry Bird eggs.