Sunday Times 4988 by Dean Mayer

I was wondering recently how many blogs I had done. I had never kept a record and working it out was always going to be quite fiddly, because there was a fair bit of chopping and changing in the roster in the early months of my contributions. Anyway, after a bit of rooting around in LiveJournal I was able to work it out and found that I had done rather more than I had expected: this is my 200th Sunday blog since my first one in May 2014. This is a pretty paltry number compared to many of the other contributors here but there it is, for what it’s worth.

The puzzle, you say? It was fun, of course, being a Dean Mayer. There were a few tricky things: the island/hybrid-cattle combo in 19ac may have caught a few people out, there was a smattering of other words that were new to me at least, and a clue composed entirely in French is a little unusual. On the whole I thought it was reasonably straightforward but I may just have got lucky with where the chips of my particular combination of knowledge and ignorance happened to fall. How did you get on?

Oh yes, 12:23.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (TIHS)*, anagram indicators are in italics.

1 By introducing it, church is vindictive
4 Weevils struggling to chase a fish
10 One of the first victims?
APRIL FOOL – another good Dean Mayer cryptic definition.
11 Fast over slow
LENTO – LENT (fast), O.
12 Ancient city plot’s on ancient ground
CONSTANTINOPLE – (PLOTS ON ANCIENT)*. Now Istanbul. Why did CONSTANTINOPLE get the works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks’.
14 Medium parts fine at Nasa, which is crazy
AMOK – A(M)OK. I was a little confused by this, because I don’t think of ‘A-OK’ as a particularly American usage, but Collins says ‘informal, mainly US’.
15 Writer’s chair is too high
17 Deftly run female into ditch
19 Leave and cross a small island
GOZO – GO (leave), ZO (cross). The ZO (also spelled variously ZO, DSO, DZHO or DZO) is a kind of hybrid domestic cattle found in the Himalayas, familiar to solvers of Mephisto or Azed. GOZO is a small island next to Malta.
22 Standard of living
24 Belief of cardinal who wanted to phone home?
TENET – TEN (cardinal), ET (who wanted to phone home).
25 Alcohol I bring in around May?
INEBRIANT – I, NE(BRIAN)T. A reference to the Queen guitarist.
26 Some opera may analogise an epic work
RAMAYANA – contained in ‘opera may analogise’. I didn’t know or had forgotten this Sanskrit epic, but the clueing couldn’t have been kinder. People often complain about obscure words indicated by anagrams but it would have been OK here! A Man Ray, a mad masterpiece?
27 Endless criticism I get in secret
1 Un chef français consomme le dessert?
BLANCMANGE – a cryptic clue entirely in French, which is rather unusual. Not the most demanding of French, and the definition is also English of course, so even if you have managed to miss the culinary output of Raymond BLANC and/or are unable to convert ‘un chef français consomme’ into ‘(Raymond) BLANC MANGE’, you should be able to grope your way to the solution with a few checkers.
2 City aware of having hill to the north
TORONTO – TOR (hill), ONTO (aware of).
3 It melts ice and it’s healthy to drink it
HALITE – HAL(IT)E. ‘Sodium chloride as a mineral’, apparently. A substance that melts ice (notably on roads) by a process known as ‘freezing point depression’.
5 Young conductors, ideal cast in popular pieces
LOLLIPOP LADIES – (IDEAL)* contained in LOLLIPOPS. A LOLLIPOP is a ‘short, entertaining, but undemanding piece of classical music’, which was news to me but the knowledge was unnecessary.
6 Indulged wife, OK?
7 Article seen in digs of Roman plain
VANILLA – V(AN)ILLA. ‘Plain’ always seems a bit harsh as a reference to VANILLA but it’s a common enough usage.
8 Small present that many want for Christmas
9 Chap turns up in saloon but I’m drunk walking out of it
SOMNAMBULATION – reversal of MAN in (SALOON BUT IM)*. Nice definition.
13 Popular as arctic winds after March
16 Nit-picking journo in grocery store?
18 Potus is one — a familiar term, ultimately
20 Untouchable players who are strikers
OUTCAST – my first thought here was that this was a slightly convoluted reference to actors playing baseball but the simpler explanation is that they are members of Equity engaged in industrial action.
21 One hunted for minerals here
23 Use a spoon to make cooler?

24 comments on “Sunday Times 4988 by Dean Mayer”

  1. …but the last 5 in the SE corner took 27mins.
    Well done, Keriothe. I’m not sure we’ll see any double tons from England on the current Ashes tour!
    There were some lovely concise Dean Mayer Clues, especially APRIL FOOL (“One of the first victims”) and LOLLIPOP LADIES (“Young conductors). In France their version is a “poisson d’avril”. Talking of France, I don’t think I’ve ever come across an entire clue in French before.
    I thought SOMNAMBULATION was very well hidden.
    In 19ac I had EXIT at first until I remembered an island is an ait not an eit.
    Also I took an age to ‘see’ QUARRY.
    Thank you Dean and thank you Keriothe.
  2. Slowed down in part by not knowing several of the clues’ referents: DNK HALITE, I knew GOZO the island but not ZO, NHO BLANC, DNK the musical LOLLIPOP, NHO Brian May. A bit of eyebrow exercise for a couple of the definitions: BITCHY=vindictive? MYSTIC=secret? But I loved the defs for LOLLIPOP LADIES & SOMNABULATION. COD to LOLLIPOP LADIES, with SOMNAMBULATION and APRIL FOOL close behind.
    1. Never has my flabber been so ghasted!

      Brian Harold May earned a PhD degree in astrophysics from Imperial College London in 2007, and was Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 to 2013. He was a “science team collaborator” with NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission. He is also a co-founder of the awareness campaign Asteroid Day.

  3. Congrats on your 200th, keriothe, and keep them coming!

    I was rather surprised on revisiting my printout to find my solving time for this was only 37 minutes although I had needed aids for the last missing letter, the Z of GOZO, never having heard of the island nor the Yak cross thingy. I remember wondering if GOJO might be something.

    I also now remember thinking that up to that point this had seemed a little on the easy side for one of Dean’s offerings, and I had been grateful for that after the previous Sunday’s puzzle.

  4. The expected long time to get this one out (>1 1/2 hrs) but that’s what I expect from Dean. All parsed except for the ‘who wanted to phone home?’ bit of the wordplay for TENET, which I’ve now looked up. Happy to remember there were various spellings of ZO which I had met somewhere before.

    I liked the defs for LOLLIPOP LADIES and SOMNAMBULATION as well as the day trip across the Channel (much further for me) for 1d. Favourite was the surface and working out the parsing for GRACEFULLY.

    Thanks to Dean and thanks and congrats to keriothe on the big double ton.

  5. This one proved quite beyond me, which was disappointing. I’d thought I was making progress and had come to enjoy Dean Mayer clues. FOI 8d SNOW, followed by ten more to fill the south-west and north-east corners, plus the long anagram at 13ac, but then got stuck, and never got started again. Thanks to blogger for the walk-through of the rest.
  6. I had never heard of RAMAYANA before this puzzle, but the book I picked up last night quoted from it. I’ll probably notice it all the time now.
    From my paper copy of the puzzle I see I struggled with IMMODERATE and APRIL FOOL. I worked things out in the end finishing with a very doubtful GOZO which I knew was an island.
    COD to BLANCMANGE for its originality, but lots of good ones.
  7. A pleasant Sunday outing with ZO a beast from Scrabbleland.

    FOI 1ac and 4ac BITCHY ALEWIVES!

    LOI 21dn QUARRY

    COD 10ac April Fool

    Typical DM economy of words in each clue – bar 9dn SONAMBULATION my WOD.

    26dn RAMAYANA sounded like yet another sixties camp-fire song.

    Edited at 2022-01-09 10:11 am (UTC)

  8. 17 minutes. COD 10ac April Fool and WOD 26ac RAMAYANA. How could one miss Queen’s ensemble!? Beyond my ken!

    Edited at 2022-01-09 02:37 pm (UTC)

  9. I and my pals at Humans Against Music karaoke regularly do “Bohemian Rhapsody” as an all-cast finale (complete with air guitar), but the name didn’t ring a bell. Obviously, that’s one I BIFFED. But I see that I did put a question mark there.
    Was a little vague on the musical connotation of LOLLIPOP as well. Could the famous Beantown ensemble have just as well been called the Boston Lollipops?
    Had never heard of the GOZO. Or even the ZO.
    Congrats on the bicentennial, James! At just 26 blogs a year, that takes a while.

    Edited at 2022-01-09 07:41 pm (UTC)

  10. I had GASO for the island (why not?) which made the OUTCAST clue even trickier than it was.
    1. I had GASO too. It (well, Gåsö) is indeed a small island, in Sweden, so I struggled with OUTCAST too. For some reason I never got INEBRIANT either since I wanted it to be INTOXICANT (with May being CAN). But it doesn’t fit.
      1. I expect more or less any combination of four letters is a small island in Sweden 😉
  11. To the second. Slowed somewhat in the SE at the end but pleased to get them all eventually. Q before U unlocked it for me

    Thought 1d was superb as were the young conductors though never heard that meaning of lollipops. And the APRIL FOOL

    Many congratulations dear esteemed blogger. Always entertaining and readable as are your daily posts

    Thanks Mr M also

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