Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012 - ST 4462

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4462
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4462]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, December 31, 2011


As usual, there is some rather tricky wordplay in this 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.

1a   Sergeant mostly seen in fleece (4)

The Phil Silvers Show[7] (originally titled You'll Never Get Rich) is a comedy television series which ran on CBS from 1955 to 1959. The series starred Phil Silvers as Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko of the United States Army. Bilko and his men seemed to spend very little time actually performing their duties—Bilko in particular spent most of his time trying to wheedle money through various get-rich-quick scams and promotions, or to find ways to get others to do his work for him. His soldiers regularly helped Bilko with his schemes, but were just as often Bilko's "pigeons" ripe for the plucking.

13a   Nothing new, heroin user's blighted careers (8)

Career[2] is used in the sense of a swift or headlong course.

17a   Outside broadcast display of emotion is repellent (7)

In Britain, an outside broadcast (abbreviation OB)[5] is a radio or television programme that is recorded or broadcast live on location and not in a studio.

19a   Very Italian covering say, for spear made from wood (7)

The Italian word for "very" is assai[8]. An assegai[5] (or assagai) is a slender, iron-tipped, hardwood spear used chiefly by southern African peoples.

21a   What may be swotted in usual offices in a cold manner? (7)

In Britain, swot[4] is a slang term meaning to cram (to study a subject intensively, as for an examination) as well as being a variant spelling of swat. The "usual offices[5]" is a British euphemism for a loo[5] (toilet). Thus, "what may be swotted (swatted) in usual offices" is A LOO FLY (a fly that is found in a loo).

24a   Labour, both sides of Atlantic backing secret plotters (5)

In the cryptic reading, "Labour" (abbreviation Lab.)[5] refers to the British Labour Party. The surface reading, may be intended to refer to the "labour movement" in a more general sense (as it specifies "both sides of Atlantic"). In the cryptic reading, "both sides of Atlantic" indicates the first and last letters of AtlantiC.

27a   A letter opener (5)

I am not sure that I completely understand this clue. Alpha[5] is a code word representing the letter A, used in radio communication as well as the first (opening) letter of the Greek alphabet. Perhaps a bit more of a stretch, alpha is also the first (opening) part of the word 'alphabet[5]', the set of letters or symbols in a fixed order used to represent the basic set of speech sounds of a language.

28a   Comfortable place with standards? (3,2,5)

I had guessed that "standards" might refer to flags, and specifically to those that might have been flown during the War of the Roses[7]. However, as Dave Perry points out, a standard[5] is a shrub grafted on an erect stem and trained in tree form (usage example from Oxford Dictionaries: [as a modifier] a standard rose).

30a   Neat container of bay trees used at regular intervals (4)

Neat[5] is an archaic term for a bovine animal and byre[5] is a British name for a cowshed. Thus a "neat container" would be a BYRE. The wordplay indicates that we are to use a regular series of letters from the word sequence "BaY tReEs". Such a series could be either the even-numbered letters or (as is the case today) the odd-numbered letters.

1d   Associated with two parties, oil company worker adopts one (10)

The "oil company" is British Petroleum (BP) - of Gulf of Mexico infamy.

2d   Imaginatively, Rice contributes to this (5)

The clue refers to British lyricist Tim Rice[7] who collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on musicals such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and The Wizard of Oz. The entire clue serves as the definition while the first part only of the clue constitutes the wordplay (thus the clue is a semi-& lit.). The solution is imaginatively hidden (indicated by "contributes") in "imaginativeLY RICe".

5d   Sterling Post Office lost, therefore experience needed (7)

As an adjective, sterling[5] may mean excellent or valuable (which is how it is used in the surface reading). The cryptic reading, on the other hand, relies on the fact that  sterling[5] and pound[5] (or  pound sterling[5]) both refer to the basic monetary unit of the UK. The definition is "experience" (which, as is sometimes the case in British puzzles, is placed in the middle of the clue). The word "needed" acts in a similar fashion to a link word - even though it does not appear between the wordplay ("Sterling post office lost, therefore") and definition ("experience"). The sense of the clue is that the solver needs to find a synonym for "experience" that also satisfies the wordplay.

9d   Good chums going round catch up immediately (4-4)

Slap-bang[4] is an informal British expression meaning directly or immediately, equivalent to the North American expression slam-bang[4].

18d   What can be found on mountain tops? THESE! (8)

I thought that I must have overlooked some exceedingly clever aspect of this clue. However, judging by Dave Perry's comments I didn't. It seems that the entire clue is a charade with "What can be found on mountain tops?" being SNOW and "THESE!" being CAPS with the whole clue serving as a definition of SNOWCAPS. I'm no more impressed than Dave Perry appears to be.

20d   Your setter's finished with leader of Opposition laying it on thick (7)

As usual, the phrase "your setter" calls for a first person pronoun. In this case, "your setter's finished" must be replaced by "I'm past" (IM PAST). Add to this the first letter (leader) of Opposition to get IMPASTO. Impasto[5] is the process or technique of laying on paint or pigment thickly so that it stands out from a surface. In countries having a Westminster System of parliamentary government, the leader of the largest party not in government carries the title Leader of the Opposition[7].

22d   Henry in cheap eatery gets something worth little (7)

In physics, the henry[5] (abbreviation H) is the SI unit of inductance, equal to an electromotive force of one volt in a closed circuit with a uniform rate of change of current of one ampere per second. Caff[5] is British slang for a café.
[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)
Signing off for this week - Falcon

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