ST 4291 (Sun 24 Aug) – Lesser of two weevils

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 7:58

A couple of dodgy clues this week but on the whole a decent puzzle, with nothing too difficult or obscure.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 PL(ANT)AIN – a kind of green-skinned banana grown in tropical countries.
5 IGLOOS (cryptic definition) – pretty good clue, took me a while to see through.
10 CAREER (double definition)
12 LOOFAH; rev. of (HA[ve] + FOOL) – one of the dodgy clues in the puzzle, with a superfluous ‘of’ and ‘Have starters’ = HA…
13 DELI(CAT)E – …and similarly ‘starting to eat’ = E here isn’t quite right, although the intention is fairly clear this time.
15 COMPUTER GAME (cryptic definition) – another decent cryptic definition, which again I was slow to spot, having expected the pun to be on ‘Relatively’ (i.e. to do with the family) whereas in fact it was the second half of the clue, ‘…bringing memory into play?’.
23 TUNGSTEN; T + (GUN)* + STEN – guns to remember include the AK, Uzi, Bren and Sten varieties.
24 OS (= ‘circles’) + PREY
26 WE + EVIL
27/14 SP + RINGER + SPAN (= ’25’) + I.E. + L – Chambers defines ‘ringer’ as ‘a person or thing of the highest excellence’, which was a new meaning to me. I wonder if the surface reading is a nod to Ronnie or Sue Barker?
28 LA(R)GER – nice semi-&lit.
29 INTENDED (two defs) – I wasn’t keen on this at first as the two meanings are very closely related, but one is an adjective and the other a noun so it’s probably ok.
1 PI(FF)LE – I had no idea ‘bing’ could mean ‘a heap or pile’, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only solver to try removing ‘cry’ (= ‘instruction to be very loud’) from ‘Crosby’. ff is musical notation for fortissimo, meaning ‘very loud’.
3 TORN + A + DO
4 INNS; IN (= ‘trendy’) + N,S (= ‘poles’)
6 GLACIER; C.I. (= ‘Channel Islands’) in (ELGAR)*
7 OPERA HAT – Lulu is an opera and Hair a musical, and there seems to be some pun on ‘hair’, but I’m not exactly sure of the setter’s intention in writing ‘…not a lot of “Hair”‘.
8 SORCERER; C.E. in (ERRORS)* – writing ‘sorceror’ here held me up, and I probably wouldn’t have spotted my mistake had the misspelling not been checked, which is a bit worrying. ‘Potter, say’ is now a fairly well-worn device.
11 DENTIST; (TENDS IT)* – hmmm, I think I’ll pass over this clue (‘Tooth? He tends it if broken’).
16 TEA TOWEL; (E[vening] + A LOT + WET)* – an attempted semi-&lit, but this one is rather verbose and doesn’t really work.
17 REINDEER; (IRENE RED)* – Dancer is one of Santa’s reindeers. I think this came up in one of the daily puzzles. Other than Rudolph, one point for each of the other seven. (Answer below.)
20 AU + SPICE – the question mark crimes of this puzzle seem to have reduced in recent times; this one is entirely justified, as ‘mace’ is an example of a spice.
21 F + RIGID
22 HYBRID (hidden)
25 SPAN (double definition)

Answer (highlight to view): Dasher, (Dancer,) Prancer, Vixen; Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen.

7 comments on “ST 4291 (Sun 24 Aug) – Lesser of two weevils”

  1. 7:21 for me.

    The OPERA HAT in 7D would conceal most of your hair if you were wearing it, though since you’d wear it to the opera rather than at the opera, it doesn’t seem quite right to say that you might see “Lulu” in it.

    1. Ah – like a Portuguese footballer, the penny finally reaches the floor. ‘You might see… not a lot of “Hair” [in it]’ means that if you were looking at someone in an opera hat, you might not see a lot of their hair – not, as I originally read it, that if you were to look inside the hat that you wouldn’t see much hair. Thanks Tony! I agree with your second observation too, but this is the Sunday Times!
  2. A pleasant enough puzzle, somewhat spoiled by 11d and 16d, neither of which should have got past quality control. Compensation came in the form of 5ac IGLOOS, which I really like. A few other tidy clues. For some reason, I always want to spell it ‘sorceror’, as well, talbinho.

    You’re right about the hat, Tony. Wearing one at the opera might not be a great idea.

  3. I must be missing something because I can’t follow the objections to the “starter(s)” clues at 12 and 13, other than the use of the same device in consecutive clues.

    I imagine the get-out at 7 is the use of the word “might”. One might do anything.

    1. I probably didn’t explain that very well. From a purist’s point of view:

      1) “have starters” doesn’t make sense; it needs to be “have’s starters”, i.e. the starters (starting letters) of “have”. Some would also argue that “starters” can’t really mean “the first two letters”, though this bothers me less.

      2) “start to eat” can sensibly mean “the start of the word ‘eat'”, but “starting to eat” can’t, really.

      On the other hand, some solvers don’t seem to mind this looseness at all. As long as it doesn’t creep into the Times daily puzzles, I won’t lose too much sleep over it.

      Your final observation amused me!

      1. Thanks for the explanation, talbinho. I guess it’s a purist thing, and I can also be a purist when it suits me!

        But “Have” starters / starters of “have” = HA seems reasonable to me. “Starting to eat” = E might be justified if one thinks of “starting” as a noun but I’ve really no idea whether that’s an accepted usage; I can only say it doesn’t seem impossible.

  4. There is one omission from the blog at 14d. This is not surprising as the clue is missing from the online printable puzzle AND the online solution.

    At 14d the crossers give us ?P?N?E?.

    I’m going for SPANDEX. A possible clue could be:

    14d Stretchy stuff expands horribly (7)

    The trade name was apparently derived from an anagram of EXPANDS anyway – so back to its roots.

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