ST 4284 (Sun 6th July 2008) Slightly bonkers

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time : around 25 minutes, with probably ten minutes staring at 6d before making a guess.

If you like your crosswords a little bit bonkers, you probably enjoyed this. If this puzzle were human, it would be locked away in a padded cell at Broadmoor, babbling about milk pudding while scribbling alternative proofs of Fermat’s last theorem on the floor with a purple crayon. The clues flip from the mundane to the arcane and back again at the drop of a hat (think Dustin “I’m an excellent driver” Hoffman in Rain Man), misfiring regularly along the way (though some of the misfires are interesting in themselves).

I don’t have all the official dictionaries. I’d be grateful if someone who does could check 4d and 22d. I’m following the recent Sunday trend of blogging all clues since this puzzle is the entry point for a lot of new solvers. For the uninitiated ( )* means ‘anagram of’, eg. (act)* = CAT .


4 MARCH HARE – [this clue misnumbered as 1 in the online puzzle] Cryptic(ish). First thought – what’s this doing in a cryptic crossword, given that the march hare is synonymous with¬†madness in the popular simile? On further reflection, perhaps the setter is suggesting that ‘march’ and ‘hare’ are a synonymous pair (two verbs of accelerated movement). They aren’t far apart in a thesaurus, but to call them synonyms is a stretch. Am I missing something?
8 EX,P(I)ATE – ‘pate’=head
9 I(MP)ROVE – 1=I
10 TORONTO – hidden word
11 PART,I,ALLY – that 1=I again.
13 MODIFIER – (idiom ref)* Qualifier/modifier in the grammatical senses.
14 SWAYED – double definition
17 COCHLEA – (Col[onel],ache)* – ‘located in the ear’ as a cue for ‘cochlea’ won’t be to everyone’s liking. If you’re a parent of young children, you’ll know that every small object in existence can be located in the ear.
19 TR,EMOR – (first letters of ‘trading registered’)+(‘Rome’ reversed)
23 LITERARY (it rarely)* – ‘The scholarly type’ as a def. for ‘literary’ is so suspect they’d skip the trial and just throw away the key (Reading Gaol, presumably).
25 ENLIGHTEN – (I lengthen)*
26 DIVINER – double def. Rather a nice clue.
28 EEL,POUT – ‘eelpout’ is used variously for several species and for the family which includes the viviparous blenny – Zoarces viviparus. Notable for giving birth to live larvae, it’s a “common soup ingredient in Mediterranean countries”. Yum. link
29 F(URN)ISHED – ‘Cast’ is one of those setters’ delights – a verb with no morphological shift as it slips into the past, and exploited to fine effect here. A stylish clue.

1 SENTIMENT (it sent men)* – Ho hum.
2 U,P,GRADE(raged)* – I was thrown for a while by the ‘president’, since UP for ‘at university’ is so common in the Times. The ‘at’ in the clue seems unnecessary.
3 MAGNIFICO (OC,IF,IN,GA,M) all reversed. For those new to this stuff, OC is Officer Commanding, GA is the abbr. for the state of Georgia, M is the first letter of ‘may’, indicated here by ‘start’. ‘Heading north’ cues the reversal. A MAGNIFICO is one of high rank, esp. in old Venice. Beauty a thing of not this surface is. But three cheers for 5 elements of wordplay in a single-word solution of just nine letters.
4 METOPE – hidden word. A topee is the good old pith helmet. Metope, as everyone knows, is usually ‘a small space between triglyphs in a Doric frieze’ but it shares its roots with the ancient Greek for ‘forehead’ and is generally found in Eng. only in the adj. ‘metopic’ – ‘of the forehead’. I think ‘metope’ may be used in biological science but I can’t find a dictionary reference.
5 COMATOSE (came, soot)* – one of those allusive definitions, and a surface that doesn’t convince.
6 HARM,ALA – the online version reads ‘Damaged’ but should surely be ‘Damage’=’harm’ (can someone confirm the print version was the same?). Probably not the setter’s fault. ALA (Latin for ‘wing’) is “either of the two side petals of a flower in the legume family, such as the pea.”¬† Some remarkable photographs here. The harmala family includes the Syrian bean-caper. Extracted harmala alkaloids include the mind-altering Telepathine, used by Amazonian natives to commune with spirits and to promote telepathy. But you probably knew I was going to say that.
12 ARMHOLE (molar,he)* – There’s a good joke in there struggling to get out.
15 WATER VOLE (rat we love)*
16 DEHYDRATE (they dread)* Anagram #9 of 12 and third in a row in the down clues. I’m an excellent driver.
18 ORC(HARD)S – checking letters and the (vague) def. ‘where fruit is to be found’ rendered the obscure wordplay somewhat redundant. An ORC is ‘any of several cetaceans, such as a grampus’, and a HARD (n) is ‘a firm or solid beach or foreshore’.
20 RONDEAU – (R=rex/regina) + (an ode)* + (U=acceptable, as in “non-U”)
21 MOISTEN (Notes I’m)* – opp. of 18d DEHYDRATE. Nice doubling.
22 MA(INTO)P – the maintopsail is the sail above the mainsail. Most dictionaries give ‘maintop’ as a mast-top platform and only have ‘maintopsail’ (one word) for the sail. The ‘following’ seems to mean the result of making ‘into’ the interior of ‘map’, with some odd syntax.
24 INDEED (denied)* Oldie, but goodie.

7 comments on “ST 4284 (Sun 6th July 2008) Slightly bonkers”

  1. Thank you. You wouldn’t believe (okay, you probably would) how much I pared it down to get it this short. There was so much to say (the dodgy and strange puzzles are surely the easiest to blog). And thank you for checking in Chambers – it’s hard to find in Canada (I tried the other day – I wasn’t going to buy it, just look up ‘metope’ in it – but no joy). And a third thank you for changing the avatar from the ferr… ermine. That march hare, with his cold dark eyes…. And I knew you’d be the one person who actually DID always think of metope as the space between the triglyphs of a Doric frieze.
    1. I bought Chambers on Amazon (the U.S. version) without much trouble, but to get Bradfords I had to go to Attempting to support my locally-owned bookstore by seeing if they could order either for me was met with chagrin as to why one of the fine dictionaries or crossword references they carried wasn’t good enough.
  2. I don’t actually do the Sunday puzzle but I read the blog anyway out of support for a fellow first-timer, and enjoyed it greatly. Oh, and sorry for calling you sorita the other day, though as a crossword person I hope you’d be tolerant of inadvertent anagrams.
    1. Thank you very much. I hadn’t actually noticed the ‘sorita’! But it’s a nom de plume (I always solve crosswords with a quill) so I’m not too precious about it.
  3. Hadn’t heard of Alibris before. Looks good. Though, like George, I do like to buy books locally when I can (seems to get harder all the time).
  4. Just catching up on all the Sunday puzzles I’ve missed recently – thank you sotira for stepping in and providing such a great blog which has had me in stitches! Agreed that this puzzle was utterly bizarre, with some surreal anagram indicators (‘to decribe’, ‘no longer’, ‘instead’ and ‘re-entering’ among them). Is 14ac really a double definition? I persevered with the obstinate MAINTOP (which I liked when I finally got it) but gave up on HARMALA after 11 mins, largely (he says defensively) because of the misprint ‘damaged’ for ‘damage’ (I thought it had to be ‘damage’ = HURT). Thanks for explaining ‘firm beach’ = HARD. Looking forward to your next!
  5. This was a bit nuts. I managed to get everything instead of 6d where, for me, DAMAGED had to be HURT and not HARM. Therefore I ended up with HURTADA – don’t ask! There is a Rio Hurtado in Chile so I perhaps HURTADA is a Bean Stew from that region? I missed the petal of sweet pea = ALA entirely so SETTER 1 – NPBULL 0.

    Bean Stew anyone?

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