Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009 (ST 4342)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on August 16, 2009


I rather enjoyed today's puzzle which contained several quite clever cryptic definitions.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

beef tea - Brit.
a hot drink made with a beef extract

custom - (noun, defn. 2) Brit.
regular dealings with a shop or business by customers

neat - (entry 2) archaic
an ox, bull or cow, etc.

over - (noun, defn. 1) cricket
a series of six balls bowled (or, in other words, deliveries) by the same bowler from the same end of the pitch

Links to Solutions

It appears that talbinho may have been vacationing this week in August. At any rate, a stand-in provides the solution for today's puzzle, which can be found at Times for the Times [ST 4342].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

11a High winds? (9)

While this would be an excellent clue for JET STREAM, I do not find it at all well-matched to AIRSTREAM. The jet stream is a high speed airstream found at high altitudes. However, an airstream, in general, may be of any speed and at any altitude.

4d Grove school? (7)

Until I read the review on Times for the Times, I had no idea at all what "grove" had to do with ACADEMY. While there is a Grove Academy in Dundee, Scotland, that seems a bit too obscure to be the source of the reference. As it turns out, the reference comes from Paradise Regained by John Milton, in which the poet refers to "
The olive grove of Academe". This information comes from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations - although it was anything but familiar to me.

Signing off for this week - Falcon

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009 (ST 4341)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on August 9, 2009


Today's puzzle was fairly challenging - and one containing a couple of surprisingly vulgar clues. Once one got over the "Did I really just read that!" reaction, the clues were quite solvable.

Links to Solutions

A review of today's puzzle by talbinho can be found at Times for the Times [ST 4341].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

13a Disposal business you wouldn't want to be high up in! (8)

Like talbinho, I had reservations about this clue. Does "high" refer to the stench one would encounter in this business? As talbinho suggests, it may refer to being "up to your waist" (or, worse yet, "up to your neck") in it. Taken another way, one might prefer to be "high up in it" as opposed to being "low down in it".

15a State of hotel working shown in complaint to do with plates (8,4)

Despite finding the correct solution (having recognized the presence of an anagram), the wordplay totally baffled me. No wonder - it relies on Cockney rhyming slang where "plates" (plates of meat) means "feet".

18a Novel that's reportedly never read on the road (7,5)

Like talbinho, I failed to pick up on the fact that "reportedly" refers to a word in the clue ("reportedly never read" intended to be interpreted as "never red") rather than a word in the solution. Despite this, for some reason, I did recognize the title of the novel from the checking letters. Apparently, the novel was considered very risqué when it was published in the 1940s - being denounced by the Catholic Church and banned in several US states (which, of course, propelled it to become the best-selling US novel of the 1940s). As a teenager, while helping my mother organize items stored in our attic, I stumbled across a copy of the book. My mother promptly stashed it away, intimating that it was not fit reading for me. That only served to make me search it out and read it. I must say, I was somewhat disappointed. What had been so controversial in the 1940s, was pretty tame by the standards of the 1960s.

23a Most of the bottom covering inset, somehow showing pretension (8)

In this clue, "most of the bottom" is arse without the final letter (i.e., ARS) - a somewhat surprising word to encounter in a crossword puzzle. However, in Britain, it would seem that arse is not considered to be such a vulgar term as it is in North America. While North Americans would be more likely to say "ass" than "arse", the latter term is also used here (sometimes for emphasis or effect). Of course, it seems that the standard of what is acceptable is changing. Today, one frequently hears the words "ass" and "piss" (but the latter, it seems, only in the sense of "piss off") used on mainstream television shows. I guess if George Carlin were to be reincarnated, his routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" would now be considerably shorter.

24a Taking optimistic view, bowled in a big game (2, 4)

Cricket fans, no doubt, had an easy time with this clue. I got the solution just from the definition part ("taking optimistic view"). If I had made an effort, I might have figured out that "bowled" is B and "a big game" is "A TEST".

27a Absorb what computing students must do (4,2,2)

Having worked my entire career in Information Technology (IT), how did I fail to comprehend the wordplay in this clue?

28a Knight, say, is a madman (6)

I guess that I'm so conditioned to seeing "say" used as a homophone indicator, that I totally missed the wordplay here - despite, I am sure, having seen it somewhere previously in a puzzle.

3d Small party in furore: "Spectator" (7)

Respect is a small British political party.

4d No yen for the other in the corner! (4)

In this clue, "the other" is a euphemism for NOOKY (vulgar slang for sexual intercourse). Since "no yen" is "no Y", the result is NOOK.

20d Extension overlooking army unit is furthest from the centre (7)

The army unit in question is the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).

Signing off for this week - Falcon

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009 (ST 4340)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on August 2, 2009


I found this to be quite a difficult puzzle, although I was able to complete it. However, much of it was solved through sheer brute force - searching through lists of candidate solutions generated from the checking letters and then working out the wordplay after the fact.

Links to Solutions

A review of today's puzzle by talbinho can be found at Times for the Times [ST 4340].

Signing off for this week - Falcon

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009 (ST 4339)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on July 26, 2009


Today's puzzle features a shrew who seems to go by many names.

Links to Solutions

A review of today's puzzle by talbinho can be found at Times for the Times [ST 4339].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

26a Stuffed balls at high tea (7)

In cricket, the act of bowling the ball is referred to as a "ball" and a set of six balls is called an over. Although there is no explicit mention of six in the clue (unless we are to infer that high tea is served at six o'clock), there seems to be enough information for the Brits to discern an OVER in the clue. Interpreting high as an anagram indicator for "tea" then gives OVERATE.

3d Full name of the playful shrew? (9)

There seems to be a plethora of variants to the spelling of Kate's full name, as one can see from the extensive discussion of this point on Times for the Times.

Signing off for this week - Falcon