Sunday Times 4740 by Dean Mayer – First Lady of Song meets King of Pop

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
8:09. Judging by other times on the leaderboard, it seems I was very much on the wavelength for this puzzle. It was a quick solve for one of Dean’s puzzles, but I thought it was a lot of fun, as usual, with several clues that raised a smile. It is also characterised by this setter’s usual economy.

From comments on the club forum, 15ac seems to have caused quite a few problems. I think I just got lucky here, spotting the well-hidden definition quite quickly. I had more trouble with the similarly well-hidden definition at 1ac, which was my last in.

So thanks again to Dean, and here’s how I think it all works.

[P.S. apologies for the late posting of this: I somehow managed to schedule it for 30 April.]

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*.

1 Promoting material that pig feeds on
ABOARD – A(BOAR)D. This is really very clever: the construction ‘that pig feeds on’ appears to tell you that you have to put something (a word meaning ‘material’, perhaps) inside a word meaning ‘pig’. In fact you have to lift and separate the word ‘on’ so that the pig becomes the dinner, rather than the diner.
5 A way to break hold in chess move
CASTLING – C(A, ST)LING. My knowledge of chess is pretty minimal but even I knew this one.
9 One way of singingBeat It
10 What happens when peeps meet
EYE CONTACT – CD, bringing to mind this character.
11 Caps frustrate landlords
BLOCK LETTERS – pretty self-explanatory.
13 A crook returned without victor or hero?
ADVENTURER – A, (RETURNED)* containing V. ‘Crook’ is the anagram indicator.
15 To call, but not ring
SHUT – SHoUT. A door that is ‘to’ is more shut than an open door, but more open than a shut door, hence you can define ‘to’ as either ‘shut’ or ‘not shut’. Isn’t language wonderful?
16 One’s wife is certainly old
IWIS – I, W, IS. An archaic term for ‘certainly’ that will be familiar to those of us who sat English degree courses in which Shakespeare counted as pretty modern. Others may need the wordplay.
18 Control what you do
OCCUPATION – DD. For the first meaning think Crimea, Tibet, the West Bank…
20 Frightening clue I had to cut
23 US labour is staggeringly good for you
24 Hearty and likely to offend
RUDE – DD, the first meaning usually (only?) used with reference to health.
25 Toy comes down — offensive packaging
TRAINSET – T(RAINS)ET. The Tet Offensive was a campaign in the Vietnam War. I’ve come across it before in crosswords.
26 Dirt road in our village (far end of it)
ORDURE – O(RD)UR, villagE.

2 Bent? Have to focus!
3 Lorry starts to leak something
4 Live feed’s ending successfully
5 Being cosy?
CREATURE COMFORT – CD, based on the fact that a ‘being’ is a CREATURE. I’m not sure I’ve seen this in the singular before. Collins has it, as an American usage. ODO and Chambers only have the more usual (to me) plural form.
6 It blooms from Hades to Necropolis
STONECROP – contained in ‘Hades to Necropolis’.
7 Piece of land needs flowers
8 Firstly, no murder is good
NICE – No, ICE (murder).
12 Bust unusually arranged
OUT OF ORDER – DD. A machine is bust if it’s OUT OF ORDER.
14 Ridiculously, swimming trunks rotated
TOOK TURNS – TOO (excessively, ridiculously), (TRUNKS)*.
17 Hosting United limits struggling Spurs
STIMULI – (LIMITS)* containing (hosting) U. According to crossword convention you can add a capital S to ‘spurs’ to create a misleading surface, but you wouldn’t be allowed to do the opposite. No me neither.
19 Trained to run through fancy duet
TUTORED – (DUET)* containing TO, R.
21 Music and dance conflict? No way
22 Light show

17 comments on “Sunday Times 4740 by Dean Mayer – First Lady of Song meets King of Pop”

  1. My notes say I was done with everything but 16a in 50 minutes. Then I spent another twenty on that one and gave up. It didn’t help that I’d never heard the word. I think at some stage I must have considered IWIS, but possibly wasn’t convinced by “One’s” becoming a single “I”…

    Apart from that, I enjoyed it; FOI 4d. I apparently particularly enjoyed BLOCK LETTERS and ADVENTURER. Glad that STONECROP was a hidden! Needed to come here for the full parsing of 25a; I think I might vaguely have heard of the Tet Offensive, but it was a few years before I was born so probably isn’t as GK for me as it might be for some…

    Thanks, as ever, to setter and blogger.

    Edited at 2017-04-09 09:07 am (UTC)

    1. I think you have to read “one’s” as “one has”, where the word “has” is just a filler word meaning something like “has next to it”. So the I is just indicated by “one”.
      As for the Tet offensive and STONECROP, these are things I know from crosswords. As I’ve said before, this is where most of my knowledge comes from these days. I seem to have forgotten everything else.
      1. That does, a week later, make some sense. I’m not entirely convinced I’d have put such an unlikely-looking word in even if I’d been half-convinced by the wordplay, mind…

        I have a feeling that the reason I’d even vaguely heard of the Tet offensive is because it’s come up here before. Sadly since then my only education about Vietnam outside crosswords has been finally watching Apocalypse Now, which as it turns out mostly takes place in Cambodia and doesn’t mention Tet…

  2. I struggled to find the wavelength with this one and it took a couple of hours on and off to work it all out. Creature Comforts took a while to drop, might have helped if I’d spotted it earlier but then again each time I got an answer and hoped a few checkers might open up the grid it never really seemed to happen, which made this a bit of an attritional slog. No real obscurities just tight economical cluing from a very good setter. A tough nut to crack.

    Edited at 2017-04-09 09:43 am (UTC)

  3. for some reason, and for the life of me I can’t think of one now, I put in ‘spiculi’. Other than that tickety-boo. IWIS surprised me; I think it was dead already in Shakespeare’s time. I had no idea how to get SHUT from the clue, but I did; thank you, K, for showing me how I could have done it.
    1. IWIS certainly features in Shakespeare. We did Richard III as a school play and I remember ‘iwis your grandam had a worser match’.
  4. I WISh 16a had been contained in a simple phrase. Finished this in 39 minutes with IWIS LOI, deduced but not known. I was 22 when the Tet Offensive was launched so TRAIN SET was seen quickly. I put SHUT in without worrying if TO was slightly different.Lots of nice clues in this such as EYE CONTACT and COD CREATURE COMFORT, known mainly in the plural. Went to see An American in Paris (that’s at the Dominion and not Hank on the Champs Elysées) last week which was truly stunning even to me. Hadn’t realised that the song BUT NOT FOR ME was from it. Ella Fitzgerald does a great version. I love her music apart from the SCAT stuff. Enjoyable puzzle.Thank you K and Mr Mayer.

    Edited at 2017-04-09 06:28 pm (UTC)

  5. was one of the biggest co-ordinated offensives of the VC and PAV in Nam early ’68. It was horribly real and is not just found in crosswords!
    It gave the Americans a very nasty shock and a credibility chasm.

    Time for crossword 47 mins.

    Did anyone note the sparcity of words in the clues? Some sort of record, Jack!?

    15ac SH(O)UT LOI and COD


  6. Struggled with this one taking 72:27 to get 2 wrong. NHO IWIS and biffed TWIS with ‘TIS as the old English. I also missed the obvious in 12d and finished up with PUT ON ORDER as something an irate RSM might do to a naughty Private. Can’t remember much about the puzzle, but looking back there were some nice clues. Thanks Dean and Keriothe.
  7. All done in 40 minutes apart from 16 which I eventually gave up on. Never heard of it and never want to again. Great puzzle apart from that which of course (because it beat me) I think was unfair.
  8. Don’t recall much about this one other than entering IWIS with my eyes closed, trusting only to the wordplay.

    I know next to nothing about military history, but the Tet Offensive was very familiar. In fact it’s the only “Offensive” that comes to mind.

    And finally, how can you not love a puzzle that has “on” and “to” as definitions? Thanks Dean and thanks Keriothe.

  9. Very enjoyable. I was finished in 34 minutes apart from SHUT. Then I had to spend another 5 minutes before enlightenment dawned on that one. I remembered IWIS from the “Spring Carol” rather than from Shakespeare because we sing it very often.(Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols”). “Pleasure it is to hear iwis the birdes sing etc” Ann
    1. ‘Without’ in the sense ‘on the outside of’ (Collins). A bit old-school, admittedly.

      Edited at 2017-04-23 05:51 pm (UTC)

  10. I reached the solution by defining “call” as “shut,” as in “call” a baseball game, meaning to shut it down, end it. But l had a couple of problems with that — it wasn’t a good definition, and, more seriously, it used “call” twice for both parts of the clue. Didn’t even consider “to” as one definition — thanks for the correct solution!
    from Phyl, Toronto, Canada

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