Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012 - ST 4463

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4463
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4463]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, January 7, 2012


I got off to a quick start, but was soon brought to an abrupt standstill - needing lots of electronic help to finish the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary should be read in conjunction with the full review at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above.

12a   After a brandy of average quality Cameron breaks into song (1,4,7)

There is disagreement among dictionaries as to what is meant by the term fine when applied to brandy. According to the Oxford Dictionary of English, it is "French brandy of high quality made from distilled wine rather than from pomace"[5]. On the other hand, The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition lists it as "ordinary French brandy"[1], Collins English Dictionary as "brandy of ordinary quality"[4], and the Random House Unabridged Dictionary as "ordinary French brandy, usually with no indication of the maker's name or location"[9]. Thus it would appear that Oxford is outnumbered three to one!

By the way, there is a small - yet fatal - error in the link to the James Bond reference at Times for the Times. The correct link is

"Cameron" may (or may not) be a reference to British Prime Minister David Cameron. "A Fine Romance"[7] is a popular song composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, published in 1936. The song was written for the musical film, Swing Time, where it was co-introduced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It may be familiar to the Brits as a version sung by Judi Dench became the theme song of A Fine Romance[7], a British television series starring Judi Dench and her husband Michael Williams.

20a   It's some job rigging this! (4)

I failed to notice the answer hiding in the clue and came up with SHIP as a solution. I was certainly on the right track, but this really messed me up at 20d.

24a   If done after onset of ailment, one sherry might make you lower (8)

"Lower" (as used in this clue) is one of those words which takes on a definition invented by cryptic crossword setters - and which have become, depending on your preference, a convention or a cliché. Here, lower means an animal which lows (i.e., a cow). This is similar to describing a river as either a flower (something that flows) or a banker (something that has banks).

1d   Display cycle on platform as a means of transport (8)

Dave Perry comments, "'Cycle' is an unusual way to clue a C". I did not find it standing alone in The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition (presumably considered the bible for British crosswords), although it is found there as part of cps (cycles per second).

2d   American who enlisted to fight in mine and live in squalor (3,2)

Pig it[5] is an informal expression meaning to crowd together with other people in disorderly or dirty conditions • he didn’t approve of the proposal to pig it in the studio.

4d   Baby starts to scream and pukes rusks over granny (5)

Sprog[5] is British slang for (1) a baby or (2) a military recruit or trainee. As a verb, it means to have a baby. Rusk[5] is a chiefly British term for a light, dry biscuit or piece of twice-baked bread, especially one prepared for use as baby food.

5d   Wanting a change L Cohen tours America and Egypt - he's so fickle (9)

Dave Perry observes, "Another slightly suspect method of cluing a single letter, E for Egypt this time. I'm not sure the Daily puzzle would get with that." This abbreviation is not to be found in the aforementioned Chambers. However, as E is the International Vehicle Registration code for Spain (España), there should have been no objection had "Egypt" been replaced by "Spain".

6d   What burlesque dancer will eventually have is class! (6)

It took a while for the penny to drop (if, in fact, that is what was being dropped) but when it did, I could not help but smile.

7d   Organ providing entertainment on the Sabbath for nearly two centuries (3,6,5)

Judging by Dave Perry's remarks, solvers in the UK may have found this clue far less cryptic than I think it would be for most North Americans. I thought perhaps the word organ might have a different meaning in Britain, but - as far as I can see - the British and American dictionaries attribute similar meanings to it. For example, the Oxford Dictionary of English defines organ[5] as a newspaper or periodical which promotes the views of a political party or movement. This seems to suggest a closer linkage to a particular special interest group than I think most North American newspapers would admit to.

20d   Club, one featuring Latin dish (5)

Having entered SHIP at 20a, the only dish that I could fit in here was SALMI. I was to discover that I should have been tasting Pakistani cooking rather than French cuisine. Unfortunately, I was not even given a chance to catch my error, since BALTI was not included in the list of possible matches returned by my word finder application. Of course, I could not make the wordplay work.
[1] - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2] - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3] - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5] - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6] - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7] - Wikipedia
[8] - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9] - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
Signing off for this week - Falcon

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