QC 2591 by Mara


Good puzzle from Mara, all green after 13:13, but one clue required assistance to winkle out the parsing.

Definitions underlined in bold , synonyms in (parentheses) (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, other wordplay in [square brackets] and deletions in {curly} brackets.

1 Bullfighter felt endless love (7)
MATADOR – MAT (felt) + ADOR {E} (love)

I’m not thrilled about MAT=felt, I thought about PICADOR which I had to discard, but I guess MAT as in matted. Felt is a cloth made of matted fibres of wool, or fur.

5 Enter text, particular category (4)
TYPE – Double def
7 Vehicle in Central African Republic, originally (3)
CAR – initial letters of Central African Republic

Doesn’t get much easier than this.

8 Termite with neat turns (5,3)

I’d not heard of this, but with helpful enumeration, the ANT jumped out leaving what had to be WHITE.

“Termite” is a back-formation from termit-es, a Latin plural word. It displaced the older English WHITE ANT (or wood ant) in the 1700s.

Apparently Aussie Slang has “He has White Ants upstairs” meaning someone’s brain is addled.

10 Puzzle on coach (5)
REBUS – RE (on) + BUS (coach)

A visual puzzle like the”sounds like” clues in crosswords, but with pictures. For example, The arms of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (aka the Queen Mother) feature bows and lions. Geddit?

The boardgame Dingbats uses Rebus puzzles.

The word REBUS comes from being non verbis sed rebus ‘not by words but by things’

11 Greek character left surrounded by wild ponies (7)
EPSILON – L{eft} inside (PONIES)*

Not such a common Greek letter, ϵ Used in Calculus to denote an infinitesimally small quantity.  Also the fifth brightest star in a constellation: the Belt Buckle of Orion is Orion-epsilon.

13 Venetian artist placing boy behind bird (6)
TITIAN – TIT (bird) + IAN (boy)

Tiziano Vecelli (1488- 1576) known in English as Titian. Think big busty, naked goddesses with flowing wispy gowns. And Mary.

15 Coat on back of plump actor (6)
PLAYER – {plum}P + LAYER (coat)
17 Embarrassing display by old boy, indecent (7)
OBSCENE – O{ld} B{oy} + SCENE (embarrassing display)

“Make a Scene” is the phrase that is needed here.

18 Grain, that which is packed with energy (5)
WHEAT – WHAT (that which) + E{nergy}
20 Wasted, girl locked up (8)
MISSPENT – MISS (girl) + PENT (locked up)

I thought this would be our Number One girl, DI. So went through words like  disabled, diseased, disposed, disputed.

PENT isn’t such a common word without being part of “pent up”, but it is just the past form (like bend/bent) of the now-rare pend, meaning shut in.

22 Fairy ran, briefly, backwards (3)
ELF – FLE{d} reversed
23 Old rag edited to some extent (4)
AGED – Hidden in rag edited
24 Wangled result keeping daughter sweet (7)
STRUDEL – (RESULT)* containing D{aughter}
1 America not prepared for culinary technique (10)

Soaking or steeping something in a liquid  in order to soften it. Often done with soft fruits like strawberries or peaches. I saw a recipe that put macerated fruit into a STRUDEL.

I thought MACERATION was chewing, but that is MASTICATION. I was confused by the machine in a toilet to chop up the solids, which is a MACERATOR.

2 Beat that! Hurdler’s run over bus, first of all (5)
THROB – Initial letters of T{hat} H{urdler’s} R{un} O{ver} B{us}
3 We stand, go dancing towards the audience (9)

Upstage has the metaphorical usage of outshine a person. I propose a new usage of DOWNSTAGE which is when you put someone else in the spotlight rather than yourself.

4 One on horseback arresting a pirate, say (6)
RAIDER – RIDER (one on horseback) contains A
5 Draw  link (3)
TIE – Double def

Draw as in a match where the scores are level. A tie.

6 Fine forms aplenty (7)

“Forms” is a bit of an odd anagram indicator, but the word “penalty” can form the word “aplenty”.

9 Heart in trouble after lung treated — not appreciative (10)
UNGRATEFUL – {tro}U{ble} [Heart in] + (AFTER LUNG)* [treated]

An easy solve but a tough parse. “Heart in” meaning “middle letter of”, and “after” not being a positional indicator, but part of the anagram.

I had to use some aids on this one, thanks Ross at Crossword Genius.

12 Rattle was unusual, coming from the sea? (9)

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea. — Karen Blixen

14 First bit of terrible wine no good for sampling (7)
TASTING – T{asting} + ASTI (wine) + N{o} G{ood}
16 Niche    holiday for politicians (6)
RECESS -Double def

Recess is the term used for the breaks in the parliamentary calendar. They are on recess for about half the calendar year. Nice work if you can get it.

19 Correct people nailed by journalist (5)
EMEND – ED (journalist) contains MEN (people)

To amend something is to try to make it better by changing the way it currently is. To emend something is to fix an error. Subtly different. An Editor might well do both.

21 Down” different initially, while going up (3)
SAD – D{ifferent} + AS (while) all reversed

67 comments on “QC 2591 by Mara”

  1. I enjoyed this crossword, although I didn’t know TITIAN so got lucky to get it right, I felt that a few other names could be correct, but IAN felt the most likely. I had to think about quite a few clues, and was definitely also tried to make 20a start with DIS.
    Some of the wordplay was quite complicated I thought, such as 9d, 21d, etc. but the definitions were more friendly.
    I made a typo ESPILON so a technical DNF, but I finished in just under 15 minutes, which is a good bit below average for me.
    COD to 6d, I liked the construction once I realised what was happening.

  2. Nice puzzle from Mara, 8.08 for me, LOsI MISSPENT and SAD. I never parsed UNGRATEFUL so thanks for doing the hard work Merlin, and I too am not convinced by mat = felt. Here in Oz the term white ant is used as much, if not more, than termite, when we’re talking about the voracious little devils that destroy untreated wooden houses by eating them. But the ones that build enormous clay tower nests in the outback are aways called termites, for what that’s worth.

    1. Thanks for that insight. I have a pic of me standing by such a tower about twice my height. I called them termites, knowing that some use the term white ant, and was unaware a different beastie was usually called a white ant.

      1. Andy I think they’re fundamentally the same beastie but out in the wild where they do no harm they’re called termites only. I have no idea why this might be the case but there it is…

  3. 12:40 Enjoyed the Karen Blixen quote( a salt water gargle to fight a sore throat can be very helpful too). Also from the blog I learned interesting facts about macerated, rebus, pent, amend/emend,Titian, and Orion’s Belt Buckle. MISSPENT was LOI and COD.

  4. I was happily rolling along at about 14 min but DNF on both MISSPENT and RECESS.

    I ended up revealing ‘RECESS’ and thought ‘rec’ was the holiday and didn’t understand how ‘ess’ were politicians so thankful for showing me the actual parsing!

    I also didn’t parse UNGRATEFUL nor the Mat in matador, which was a write in unless there are other bull fighters?

    I did advanced calculus at university, so happy to see EPSILON. I was very proud at at how beautifully formed I could write them in my notebooks.

    I’m always pleased to know a word due to reading period romances (they can be edifying!) and Titian is one… Every fifth heroine has titian hair it seems.

    We’ve rebuilt two houses basically from scratch now because of those pesky white ants. I have ptsd from them falling on my head.

    1. Oh my god, ants eat houses out there !?You’ve just created a new anxiety for me. The thought of ants dropping on my head while I’m asleep.

      1. Wood eating termites! They fell on my head because I demolished a wall and they were eating the wooden frame and I’m petite

        I wouldn’t have seen them had I not taken a sledgehammer to the gyprock/plaster/drywall

    2. Other bullfighters include picador (as mentioned in the blog and also 7 letters), torero, toreador, banderillero, and rejoneador. Pretty sure I’ve seen the first three in various crosswords over the years.

    3. A DNF for me too, with the same hold-outs plus STRUDEL – never occurred to me to consider “wangled” as an anagram indicator. The rest of the puzzle was very quick by my standards, it was a bit odd to slam to a halt so abruptly.

  5. 4:01 so no real hold-ups today. The first few across clues were pretty friendly, especially CAR.

    Can’t say I’ve ever heard “white ants upstairs” as an expression but as others have said they can be quite maddening.

    Thanks Mara and Merlin, especially for the emend / amend distinction. Another handy weapon to keep stored in the pedant’s armoury!

  6. 9 minutes. Wasn’t sure about ‘felt / MAT’ but a quick glance at a dictionary post-solve removed all doubts.

    REBUS known originally from the ‘Inspector Rebus’ books by Ian Rankin and later from many a crossword puzzle.

    Parsed ELF as FLE{w} (ran) backwards, which works just as well.

  7. Another quick start followed by grinding out the last two, MISSPENT and SAD. So around 27 minutes but an overall success. Nonetheless I shall be consigned yet again to the desks at the back of the class and take another step towards winning the dreaded ‘Tries Hard’ award at prize giving. I wish I could blame being distracted by Mrs ITTT for my slowness, but alas she remains upstairs gently snoring in the marital cot.
    No real stand out clues for me today, but I had cleverly remembered the subtle difference between AMEND and EMEND, which I used to find puzzling, so am hoping for at least a housepoint from Sir later.
    Many thanks to Mara and Merlin.

  8. Felt like an explosion in an anagram factory today. I raced along until becoming becalmed with SAD, RECESS and especially MISSPENT left. While for ‘as’ needs to be higher on my ‘be on the lookout for’ list, RECESS was just simpler than I thought (and MPs at the end was temping with the final S) and MISSPENT was just above my grade. Solved with a gratifying groan with 14.30 on the clock. Great blog Merlin – overlooked Di in thinking of girls so need to really drill that into my brain too. All green!

  9. Very similar experience to our blogger in that I believed MACERATION was related to chewing and couldn’t parse UNGRATEFUL.
    Other than that a fairly straightforward solve starting with MATADOR and finishing with the MISSPENT/SAD combo in 6.40.
    Thanks to Merlin for the very interesting blog

  10. 4:04. Another who was dubious about MAT = “felt”, so I held off putting 1A it in until confirmed by MACERATION. LOI SAD. Some nice surfaces. I liked “the back of plump actor” most. Thanks Mara and Merlin.

  11. Found this quite straightforward completing all bar misspent and sad in 19 minutes. Took another 8 minutes trying to find girls names before the PDM for sad that made it obvious.

    Very glad of the help parsing several today, especially ungrateful an player
    COD aplenty.
    Thanks Mara and Merlin.

  12. NHO MACERATION but otherwise nothing arcane here. Was a bit slower than I’d like due to some harder parsing than yesterday, though.

  13. Having watched a surfeit of TV programmes involving camping and glamping accommodation I associate MACERATION more with what comes out than what goes in!

  14. The cooking meaning of Maceration was unknown (it is also a key part of the wine-making process, where one soaks the grape skins in the grape juice, which is where I have met it) but I entered it from the checkers and anagram, and Ungrateful was only parsed after putting it in, but otherwise I thought this a very accessible puzzle and came home in just over 9 minutes.

    Many thanks Merlin for the blog

  15. 11:40
    Slowed by the surfeit of anagrams!
    Biffed ungrateful seeing most of the anagrist.
    LOI recess
    COD Epsilon.

  16. I got confused over the spelling of MACERATION, and forgot to count the letters on the anagrist, so one pink square after 9m 11s.

    I failed to spot the parsing of REBUS, but biffed it based on a memory that Ian Rankin named his detective after a puzzle. I could not parse UNGRATEFUL either, so that was my LOI.

    Thanks Mara and Merlin

  17. I refused to put in MATADOR until I had every single checker, because although it immediately seemed to be the answer I just couldn’t see “mat” for “felt”. That didn’t slow me down though – the delays were all in the SW with the MISSPENT/SAD/RECESS trio. I was sure she was going to be Di … then tried Vi … then Fi … oh dear!

    Eventually light dawned for 07:38 and a Reasonable Day. Thanks for the very interesting blog, Merlin, and thanks for the puzzle Mara.


  18. A slog, but I got there in ~30 mins. I was lulled by the first few answers dropping in like raindrops falling from the sky. Then the breezeblocks tumbled from the heavens and it took quite a while to crawl out from the rubble.

    Couldn’t parse UNGRATEFUL without Merlin’s lovely blog, and NHO MACERATION in culinary context.

    Still, it’s better than a DNF, so I’ll take it.

  19. I enjoyed this and managed one of my quicker times about 8 minutes. Mat for felt might be right in the dictionary but I don’t think it’s right for a quickie – just my opinion! Thanks all though.

  20. Like other I had doubts about Mat=felt but plonked in MATADOR anyway. Like others, I stuck on SAD and MISSPENT, biffing the former and needing a hint for the latter.
    Otherwise doable and fairly quick if you were in an anagram mood.
    Thanks vm for blog, Merlin.

  21. FOI RAIDER (only because I wanted to eliminate O as the ending of 1a, MATADOR came much later) and LOI MISSPENT. I saw MACERATION very quickly but it was the anagrams of DOWNSTAGE, SALTWATER and STRUDEL that slowed me down just a little. 6:25 for an excellent day.
    I’ve now gone back to read the blog Merlin. Great blog. Thanks for the additional information.

  22. Slow but steady taking my full 60 mins (plus a bit) but parsed them all which I am pleased with – even if I did need some help from aids. Thanks for an informative blog Merlin! Just found out I’ve got a puncture – that may take a bit longer to solve!!!!

  23. 4:59 but…

    …urgh! Somehow, my 3d came out as DOWNSTGEE which also ruined my 13a which came out as TITIGN – doesn’t happen on paper! Apart from MACERATION which I’d heard of but thought it was pounding a piece of meat until it was flat, no real issues.

    Thanks Merlin for the great blog, and Mara

  24. Like our blogger, I was sure that Di was the girl in 20a. So I wasted a couple of minutes on that before going back to it as LOI for a rethink. I am learning, slowly, to ditch alluring ideas which ” have to be right”. So MISSPENT was LOI after 15 minutes.
    At least I managed to avoid biffing TESTING at 14d.
    Another good QC I thought with some gimmes but also some tricky stuff.

  25. I join the long queue of people who had reservations about MAT for felt, which together with my doubts about MACERATION made the top corner problematical. In spite of this hiccup I sped through half of this crossword pretty quickly, but slowed in the second half before finally deciding 1ac and 1dn were correct after all. My finishing time of 8.15 was pretty reasonable for me, so it looks like I’ve got my mojo back after a pretty poor couple of weeks on the QC.

  26. Fairly straightforward but held up by LOI RECESS, taking a while to see it as a DD. Had to solve RAIDER before being confident about MATADOR as I wanted to check it didn’t end in ‘o’. Went for a lazy and possibly made-up ‘marination’ before REBUS made me double-check the anagrist. Also toyed with Di Before miss in MISSPENT. Thanks for the education about emend/amend Merlin – had thought them synonymous. Good to appreciate the difference. Thanks Mara.

  27. I was slow with this by my standards, and was another seduced by “Di” before the penny dropped with a clang on my LOI.

    My late father served in India during WW2, and told me that one of his colleagues left his boots out overnight, only for WHITE ANTS to attack them so viciously that he found very little trace of them at Reveille, other than hobnails and aglets.

    TIME 5:09

  28. I completed this one but have to admit to losing interest toward the end. 21d was simply an utter nonsense to me and I had no idea what it was asking for, until Pumpa helped me out.

    As somebody else pointed out above termites are not actually ants, despite being called “white ants”. Rather, they are members of the cockroach family. However, they are fascinating to learn about. There are even “army termites”, which, like army ants, march in columns of millions of individuals. Again, fascinating to study, just as are ants.

    I have never heard of MACERATION, but managed to get it purely down to having some letters present and working out what seems to be more likely a word from the remaining letters.

    Ask Pumpa: 11a, 20a, 21d

  29. 9d UNGRATEFUL, biffed, erased as unparseable and re-entered as “has to be.” Thanks for the parsing Merlin.
    Also struggled with 21d SAD, didn’t initially spot while=as, although it is well known by now.

  30. The top half took next to no time but I slowed down somewhat in the bottom half. Finished up in 14 minutes with PLAYER and UNGRATEFUL unparsed (I realised the latter was an anagram but didn’t stop to work out the exact details as it was obvious from the crossers). NHO white ants for termites but again it was pretty obvious once I’d spotted ant in the anagrist.

    FOI – 1ac MATADOR (I hesitated with this due to doubts as to whether mat=felt but went ahead anyway)
    LOI – 16dn RECESS
    COD – 20ac MISSPENT

    Thanks to Mara and Merlin

  31. All done in 24 minutes, which is quite fast for me. My FOI was MATADOR and CAR was the easiest clue I think I have ever seen. My last few in were SAD, MISSPENT and TASTING (where I had oscillated between the correct solution and TeSTING).

    As a mathematician it was nice to see EPSILON, but PENALTY was less welcome as I received a Penalty Charge Notification (PCN) earlier this morning for forgetting to pay the £6 charge when dropping off my son at Gatwick a few weeks ago. I don’t object to there being a charge but there’s nowhere to pay while you’re there, so you have to remember when you get home. I bet NCP (the operator) makes a fortune from people forgetting to do so. Luckily, as it was a first offence I was only charged £15, but next time it will be £60 (or £100 if the fine isn’t paid within 14 days). Rather steep for just 2m 13s in the charging zone.

    Many thanks to Mara and Merlin.

  32. 17 mins…

    I pretty much had the same feelings regarding “Mat” = “Felt”, and also didn’t parse 9dn “Ungrateful” properly. My first thought of a Venetian artist is Canelleto and his wonderful perspective paintings, but that obviously wouldn’t fit.

    FOI – 1ac “Matador”
    LOI – 20ac “Misspent”
    COD – 20ac “Misspent”

    Thanks as usual!

  33. Did this a while ago, then got caught up with work. About a par time for the level of puzzle apparently.

    MISSPENT LOI, same travails as others with various other random female names.


  34. 11.48 Mat and felt were fine. I spent much longer equating draw and tie. AGED, SAD and MISSPENT also took a good while at the end. Thanks Merlin and Mara.

  35. A pleasant time, and finished a bit under my par at 23 1/2 minutes. My American dialect held me up on STRUDEL (“sweet” is not really a noun to me) and RECESS (that’s a break for school children around here), my LOI.

    I enjoyed unraveling UNGRATEFUL! But COD to OBSCENE.

    Thanks to Mara and Merlin!

  36. 7.20 with a typo

    Bit off the pace especially as I biffed MATADOR with ne’er a hesitation. Couldn’t see a couple of the anagrams and had to unusually write them out. (Apologies for that split infinitive).

    Thanks Merlin and Mara

  37. 14:49, squeaking just inside my target for the second day in a row. Never managed to parse UNGRATEFUL, so thanks for that Merlin. Liked EPSILON most, although with 7 letters to play with I went through my (small) array of Greek heroes etc before spotting how it worked.

    Thanks to Merlin and Mara.

  38. Plenty of anagrams for a change, although some of the indicators were unusual. About 25 minutes for an enjoyable puzzle.

  39. Lots of anagrams and generally pretty straightforward, apart from MISSPENT/SAD and why FELT= MAT, although solution obvious.

  40. Still online this morning, but the ink has arrived now, so back to pen and paper tomorrow! This took me 9:26, so A Not Bad Day. Nothing much to say, except I didn’t look into the structure of UNGRATEFUL – a far more complicated clue than I first realised!
    FOI Car LOI Misspent COD Titian
    Thanks Mara and Merlin – an excellent blog ful of interesting details

  41. I much enjoy following the QC solutions to learn how the clues are solved. When online is it acceptable to check each clue on entry or only the whole grid once complete?

    1. if it helps you along and adds to your confidence then do it without any need for shame!

    2. What Andrew said! There are no right or wrong ways to learn and improve, so if using the check button helps, then go for it. There’s also no doubt that this blog has helped numerous people get to grips with the twists and turns of crossword solving 😊

  42. 15:30

    Technically a DNF as I hit the button before entering LOI EMEND. Once I saw what I’d done it was only a few more seconds to complete. That’s the downside of solving on an iPad. Once you submit you submit.

  43. Another easy puzzle from one my harder setters – what’s going on?! Fairly rattled through bur had to think out Ungrateful/Misspent/Elf.
    FOI 1a Matador – could it have been easier – more ‘concise’ than QC methinks
    LOI 21d Sad – had to take its turn
    COD 9d Ungrateful – took some unravelling.

  44. We have a felt mat table protector. Not so common now tables are a thing of the past 😂

  45. Thinking 20 untimed minutes but resorting to blog for Misspent. Otherwise entered many answers without parsing, parsing wrongly and semi-parsing (is that an allowable phrase?).

    Thanks for the decoding Merlin.

  46. A happy 30 minutes or so and a comfy seat in the SCC. With the other mathematicians, glad to see EPSILON make an appearance.

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