Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014 — ST 4581

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4581
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4581]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, April 12, 2014[Note 2]
Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Times for the Times
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Times for the Times
- yet to be solved
[1] This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, April 12, 2014 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.
[2] Unverified as a paywall bars access to the The Vancouver Sun website.


Knowing that today's puzzle would be by Anax, I braced myself for a good challenge — and he certainly delivered. As you can see from the chart above (which resembles a rainbow today), I needed a fair bit of electronic assistance. Even with that help I still failed to solve one clue. While Dave Perry's review revealed the wordplay and the solution for that clue, it did not help me understand the definition. I spent a long time searching for an explanation before the thought occurred to me to check if the answer might lie in Cockney rhyming slang.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Definitions are underlined in the clue, with subsidiary indications being marked by means of a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions.


1a   Stays in charge to interrupt forecast (6)

Historically, stays[5] were a corset made of two pieces laced together and stiffened by strips of whalebone.

A bodice[5] is a woman’s sleeveless undergarment, often laced at the front.

4a   Extremely pompous and touchy sort of cow (5,3)

Cow is used as a verb.

10a   See parts to flog in stock left after deal (5)

Lo[5] is an archaic exclamation used to draw attention to an interesting or amazing event and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them.

11a   Sudden discovery a short time after clumsy warning (3,6)

Aha moment[5] is an informal term for a moment of sudden insight or discovery he had an aha moment when looking at my medications past and present.

12a   One using special biology terms? (12)

15a   Was singer Romeo's spotted outside dead drunk? (9)

Romeo[5] is a code word representing the letter R, used in radio communication.

17a   Criminal's lost in holiday home (5)

How did I ever manage not to see the wordplay here?

18a   Satisfied about religious books and sacred music (5)

The word "books" is often used to clue either the Old Testament (OT) or the New Testament (NT). The use of the modifier "religious" makes the intent even more clear.

19a   Gay girl's dancing around daughter's fabulous tree (9)

In Scandinavian mythology, Yggdrasil[5] is a huge ash tree located at the centre of the earth, with three roots, one extending to Niflheim (the underworld), one to Jotunheim (land of the giants), and one to Asgard (land of the gods).

20a   What befits those in trouble, receiving variable quantity? (3,2,3,4)

Six of the best[5] is a chiefly British expression, historical or humorous, denoting a caning as a punishment, traditionally with six strokes of the cane one prefect would hold you down and the other would give you six of the best.

In some British schools, a prefect[5] is a senior pupil who is authorized to enforce discipline.

24a   FA support won't start more trouble (9)

The intent here is to mislead the solver into thinking that FA stands for The Football Association[7], also known simply as the FA, which is the governing body of football [soccer] in England. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in England.

In reality, FA[5] is the abbreviation for Fanny Adams[5], a British slang term meaning nothing at all [a euphemism for fuck all and commonly appearing in the phrase sweet Fanny Adams] ⇒ I know sweet Fanny Adams about mining.

I thought the support was a PIER, while Dave Perry opted for BIER. Either works [although the setter does confirm that he intended it to be PIER].

25a   Half-inch square piece of cloth (5)

It took forever — and many wrong turns — to track down the definition here. I found lots of explanations of the wordplay but the definition is seemingly so familiar to Brits that it merited no explanation whatsoever.

Half-inch[5] is Cockney rhyming slang for pinch (in the sense of steal) ⇒ she had her handbag half-inched.

The Chambers Dictionary lists S[1] as an abbreviation for square.

26a   Virgin can, when taken by force (8)

27a   Design an alien world (6)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial[7] (often referred to simply as E.T.) is a 1982 American science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. It tells the story of a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed "E.T.", who is stranded on Earth. He and his siblings help the extraterrestrial return home while attempting to keep it hidden from their mother and the government.


1d   A pain mostly there in chest? Start to exhale (10)

2d   Think about jail? (10)

A double definition with the second being the whimsical invention of the setter.

3d   Couple finishing off fancy sweets (5)

What North Americans call candy[5], the Brits call sweets. In Britain, candy[5] is sugar crystallized by repeated boiling and slow evaporation making candy at home is not difficult—the key is cooking the syrup to the right temperature.

The clue would seem to use the word "candy" in the North American sense, but that may only be because I'm looking at it from a North American perspective.

5d   A funny Scooby Doo episode? (6,3,5)

Although I originally saw this as a cryptic definition, I suppose Dave Perry may have somewhat of a point when he identifies it as a double definition.

A funny[10] is a joke or witticism.

A shaggy-dog story[5] is a long, rambling story or joke, typically one that is amusing only because it is absurdly inconsequential or pointless. [from an anecdote of this type, about a shaggy-haired dog (1945)].

Scooby-Doo[7] is an American animated cartoon franchise, comprising several animated television series produced from 1969 to the present day. The original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, featured four teenagers—Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers—and their talking brown Great Dane dog named Scooby-Doo, who solve mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures through a series of antics and missteps.

Scooby-Doo, being a Great Dane, is not particularly shaggy, although the cartoon does feature a human character named Shaggy. Perhaps Scooby-Doo is a "Shaggy dog" because he belongs to Shaggy. Or perhaps we are meant to read it as "a Shaggy/dog story", that is, a story about Shaggy and a dog.

6d   Meeting point where explorer gets into shelter (9)

Sir John Ross[5] (1777–1856) was a British explorer. He led an expedition to Baffin Bay in 1818 and another in search of the North-West Passage between 1829 and 1833.

Sir James Clark Ross[5] (1800–1862) was a  British explorer. He discovered the north magnetic pole in 1831, and headed an expedition to the Antarctic from 1839 to 1843, in the course of which he discovered Ross Island, Ross Dependency, and the Ross Sea. He was the nephew of Sir John Ross.

7d   Outstanding work of Pindar read out (4)

Judging by comments on Times for the Times, I wasn't the only one to have trouble with this clue.

8d   Film-maker, rubbish one (4)

Jacques Tati[5] (1908–1882) wa a French film director and actor; born Jacques Tatischeff. He introduced the comically inept character Monsieur Hulot in Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953), seen again in films including the Oscar-winning Mon oncle (1958).

Tat[5] is an informal British term meaning tasteless or shoddy clothes, jewellery, or ornaments the place was decorated with all manner of gaudy tat.

9d   Parliamentary process aimed only at heading off Tory revolts (5,3,6)

Although the definition and checking letters provided sufficient information to solve the clue with the assistance of a word finder programme, I failed to decipher the wordplay.

An early day motion[7] (EDM), in the Westminster system of parliamentary government, is a motion, expressed as a single sentence, tabled by Members of Parliament that formally calls for debate "on an early day". In practice, they are rarely debated in the House and their main purpose is to draw attention to particular subjects of interest.

I tried to find an instance where such a motion was used to head off a Tory revolt. In fact, I found the virtually the opposite. The censure motion by which the Labour Government of James Callaghan was ejected had its origin in an early day motion (no. 351 of 1978–79), put down on 22 March 1979, by Conservative Party Leader Margaret Thatcher.

13d   Good law easing supply for Scot (10)

I never seem to remember that supply[5], used as an adverb meaning in a supple way, can be an anagram indicator.

A Glaswegian[5] is a native of Glasgow, Scotland.

14d   US financial interests briefly spread into personal money supply (4,6)

Wall Street[5] is a street at the south end of Manhattan, where the New York Stock Exchange and other leading American financial institutions are located. The name is used allusively to refer to the American money market or financial interests. The street was named after a wooden stockade which was built in 1653 around the original Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam.

16d   A sensible person knocked senseless? (3,4,2)

The term twit seems to have a bit of a different connotation in the UK than it does on this side of the pond. North American dictionaries define twit as a foolishly annoying person[3] or an insignificant or bothersome person[11]. In Britain, a twit[4] is a foolish or stupid person; or, in other words, an idiot.

Thus "a sensible person" would be NO TWIT.

21d   Stand in line, slowly move ahead (5)

22d   Take a photo and lose it (4)

23d   Muslim provided American backing (4)

A Sufi[5] is a Muslim ascetic and mystic.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[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)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for this week — Falcon

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