Sunday Times 5064 by Dean Mayer

10:23. This felt trickier than my time suggests, with a few rather obscure (i.e. I didn’t know them) things and some slightly curious equivalences. I’ve mentioned these as they come up in the blog and will be interested to hear others’ views.

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

1 Give source of energy without energy (just kidding)
PLAYFUL – PLAY (tolerance, give), FUeL.
5 Alien after fresh piece of meat
BRISKET – BRISK (fresh as in cold weather), ET.
9 Bad egg or left-over milk?
LOUSE – L, O, USE (exploit, milk).
10 Are they still living together?
FLATMATES – CD based (I think) on flat/still referring to non-sparkling water.
11 Its shop was local but never closer
OPEN ALL HOURS – CD, referring to the sitcom starring Ronnie Barker.
14 Pilot’s fleece
CON – DD. I think I’ve come across CON for ‘pilot’ in a past puzzle. It rang a vague bell.
15 What material has sharp edges in the same place I half-cut?
TANGIBILITY – TANG(IB, I, LIT)Y. Sharp = TANGY. IB = ibid (in the same place). Half-cut/LIT as in drunk.
17 Old money criminal in prison loves
SILVER SPOON – (PRISON LOVES)*. A strange one this. I think it’s a reference to the expression ‘born with a SILVER SPOON in one’s mouth’ but 1) the spoon on its own doesn’t mean anything and 2) the expression doesn’t necessarily refer to ‘old money’ (i.e. money that’s been in a family for a long time). So this one requires quite a lot of squinting, unless I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.
18 Object in orbit I reported
EYE – sounds like ‘I’. ‘Orbit’ being another word for the eye socket.
19 With pieces to cut, dress is all there
COMPOS MENTIS – COMPOS(MEN)T, IS. One meaning of ‘dress’ is ‘to till and cultivate (land), esp by applying manure, compost, or fertilizer’. News to me. The MEN here are chess pieces or similar.
23 Prisoner’s honest daughter taken
CONSTRUED – CON’S, TRUE, D. The verb ‘take’ can mean a lot of different things but I’m struggling to equate it with ‘construe’. In noun form (what’s your take on such and such) I can see it but I don’t think this meaning has a verb form.
24 He enters races — a character from Greece
25 Not a subject being prepared in advance
MONARCH – M(ON)ARCH. ON is another word with dozens of possible meanings, and again I’m struggling to make the equivalence with ‘prepared’. The closest I can think of is being ‘still on for the match tomorrow’ but to me that just means that you’re going to play, there is no sense of preparedness. Edit: see comments, ON is of course indicated by ‘being prepared’, as in cooking. Doh! Thanks Joseph.
26 Eats bananas to contain odd swellings
STRUMAE – (EATS)* containing RUM. I did not know this word and needed all the checkers for the wordplay to become clear.
1 Holding down one’s job, perhaps
PILLOWCASE – CD. Nice one.
2 A lovely point of view that’s not quite right?
ACUTE ANGLE – A, CUTE, ANGLE. An angle that is less than 90°.
3 Sea breeze and cold front are met in storm
FREMANTLE DOCTOR – (COLD FRONT ARE MET)*. I think I first encountered this name for a Western Australian sea breeze when my esteemed fellow blogger ulaca got (I can only assume) stuck into the sauce a bit too enthusiastically before composing his blog, with this memorable result.
4 Palm marks of 51 cats
5 Very good show of courage, pulling plug out
6 After engagement, are the nuts warmer?
IMMERSION HEATER – IMMERSION (engagement, as in deep involvement), (ARE THE)*.
7 Musical instrument to put on floor
KOTO – KO (knock out, floor), TO. A Japanese stringed instrument.
8 Shame on you, accepting a mission
12 As it happens, air travel is rough with me (10)
LIVESTREAM – (TRAVEL IS ME)*. Tricky definition!
13 Special speech therapy, lacking the sci-fi concept
16 Old horse with smooth flanks
IRONSIDES – IRON, SIDES. Oliver Cromwell’s cavalry.
20 De luxe hotel a good thing to open
PLUSH – PLUS (a good thing), H.
21 14 computers need backing up
SCAM – reversal of MACS. 14 being 14ac.
22 Article with no name shown thus
ANON – A, NO, N. &Lit. OR possibly semi-&Lit, depending on whether you think the words ‘shown thus’ are part of the wordplay.

36 comments on “Sunday Times 5064 by Dean Mayer”

  1. Merriam-Webster has an entry for SILVER SPOON tout court and defines it as “inherited wealth”—whereas both Collins and refer one to the particular definition of “spoon” (7 and 17, respectively) in their entries that explains the entire “born with a…in one’s mouth” idiom. I didn’t think twice about this while solving.

    I was totally stumped on parsing COMPOS MENTIS—the obvious answer—until I dug up the “fertilize” sense of “dress.”

    Parsed FLATMATES as you did, and as I assume (virtually) everyone else will.

    Re CONSTRUE, I took that as meaning…

    As I had never heard of the Brit sitcom, I was trying to explain OPEN ALL DOORS for the longest time. (Sounds like something William Blake might have said…)

    ANON is also present as a backward hidden word in that clue, must have been unintentional. Maybe a missed chance.

    Not a Complaint, but… Department: STRUMAE is an escapee from Mephisto.

  2. This took me a long time. NHO the sea breeze or the sitcom. DNK STRUMAE, of course; a word I’d expect in a Mephisto, but the wordplay was easy. Never did parse COMPOS MENTIS (DNK dress). I could make nothing of the ON in MONARCH. My eyebrows didn’t move at SILVER SPOON. I have checks by a number of clues–PLAYFUL, EYE, TANGIBILITY, PILLOWCASE, ACUTE ANGLE, KOTO (which is in fact played on the floor), LIVESTREAM–COD maybe to PILLOWCASE. [on edit]: ODE sv con4: (US) (also conn) verb: direct the steering of (a ship) noun: (the con) the action or post of conning a ship
    Capt. Kirk would tell Sulu or someone ‘You have the con’ when he left the bridge to go to the loo or whatever.

      1. Beep boop. No – “Musical instrument” doesn’t contribute to the wordplay, only the definition, so the clue can’t be an &lit. Beep boop.

        1. Right you are! Though I could not restrain my momentary access of enthusiasm over the aptness of the clue, I did note that the proposition was not seconded.

  3. I used aids at 50 minutes with three answers outstanding when I realised I was never going to get the unknown FREMANTLE DOCTOR. With that in the grid I had the missing checkers that had prevented me solving MONARCH and TANGIBILITY.

    NHO (or had forgotten) KOTO. I didn’t think twice about SILVER SPOON or CONSTRUE, and surprised myself by finding STRUMAE constructed from wordplay was correct.

  4. Didn’t have a problem with CONSTRUED. For me ON comes from the ideom “I’m on it” = “I’m prepared”. FREMANTLE DOCTOR took a lot of searching.

  5. 80m 51s Very hard.
    Keriothe, in 17ac, SILVER SPOON can’t be an anagram of IN PRISON LOVES as you indicate. “Too many letters my dear Mozart!” I do share your doubts about the ON in MONARCH though.
    But thanks for elucidation elsewhere: COMPOS MENTIS, IMMERSION HEATER, KOTO and LIVESTREAM.
    With TANGIBILITY, I was working on IBID and not the much shorter version of IB.
    Thanks again, Keriothe.

  6. As for ON in 25, the closest equivalence is surely something like the phrase “the dinner’s on”, that is, it’s being prepared.
    Overall, pretty obscure puzzle. The crafty definition in 12 made it my COD.

    1. Thanks, you’ve reminded me of exactly the example I thought of when solving in order to allay my doubts.

    2. Ah yes, you just have to include the word ‘being’! I had assumed it was just filler. Thanks.

  7. Struggled to parse tangibility but it all worked out. Loved your link to ulaca’s travels!

  8. DNF on 45 with four to go

    Going out for lunch (I do these a week in arrears) so that was my limit. Was getting there with the breeze but timed out.

    Wanted COMICAL (coal around something) or something similar in 1a and that really stopped me seeing the right way to approach that. Missed the easy LOUSE

    COD though and one of the best CDs I can recall is 1d. Totally stumped for a little while even when I found the answer coming here. Cracking stuff

    Thanks Dean and Keriothe

  9. 28.59, with quite a lot of answers put in hoping someone else would explain: not disappointed! I liked the chirpy cryptic suggestion for PILLOWCASE, while still wondering whether an inanimate object can have a job. Mind you, with the way my pillowcases mess about, I might query inanimate.

  10. 30m

    All ok in the end, except for 2dn ACUTE ANGLE in which the word “quite” makes the clue both longer and inaccurate, and adds minimal flavour to the surface. I assume the editor mistakenly added it? As this setter is known for brevity?

    1. I’m not sure I agree. ‘Not quite’ is necessary in order to convey the specific idea that the angle is less than 90°, which I think is definitionally important. Of course an ACUTE ANGLE is not necessarily nearly 90° as this also implies, but it might be. So this is a kind of definition by example, indicated by the question mark.

      1. Interesting. So a 91-degree angle couldn’t be “not quite right”? I just read it as meaning “close to” without implying any direction. This was my gut instinct at the time, and I continue to believe that the clue would be far better off.

        1. Interesting question – I honestly don’t know, it’s hard to imagine a situation where it would come up! But ‘not quite’ normally conveys a sense of ‘less than’, which I think is intended here.

          1. “‘not quite’ normally conveys a sense of ‘less than’” – does it though? I don’t think it does, and I can’t find any evidence to support your claim

            1. Really?! ‘Quite’ means (among other things) ‘entirely’, and if something is not entirely X then it is by implication less than X. The glass is not quite full, the plate is not quite clean, he was not quite 50 when we first met. If you said ‘I’m passing through Reading but I’m not quite there’ it would clearly indicate that you hadn’t yet arrived, not that you had just passed. Etc etc.

              1. The glass is not quite empty, the food on the plate is not quite eaten, I had not quite hit my goal weight of 70kg when we first met.


                A better example is a half-full glass. If a glass is not quite half-full, then is it more than half-full, or less than half-full. I’m saying it could be either

                EDIT: even in that example, the word “full” implies a direction, which is totally absent in the case of a right angle. Anyway the clue annoyed me so much at the time that I remembered a week later. Obviously.

                1. I don’t agree with that. If you say a glass is not quite half full, than I think that indicates unambiguously that it’s less than half full.

                  1. Yes, because “full” implies a direction. I would say “empty” if I meant the other direction. What direction is implied by “right” angle?

                    1. It’s there in the sense that an acute angle is narrower (hence smaller), and represented by a lower number (in degrees) than an obtuse angle. So if I were asked which is ‘less’, I would say the former. It is admittedly a little oblique but it works for me.

                  2. The reply button disappeared because it took me that long to wrap my head around the idea that the number of degrees in an angle has some kind of direction. Sorry for being so obtuse.

                    I do find the idea quite intriguing. Perhaps angles are born with only zero degrees, and reach full maturity (“rightness”) at 90 degrees. They continue to grow, becoming quite obtuse until they hit the middle straight age, and then they turn on themselves until they come full circle.

            2. In addition to Keriothe’s points, “not quite” is separately defined under “quite” in the Oxford Dictionary of English – “not completely or entirely”. I’m struggling to think of an example dealing with quantities like angles where you would naturally say “not quite” rather than “not exactly” or “not quite the same as” if you were describing something slightly bigger. As far as the clue content goes, it is exactly as originally received from Dean.

              1. I mean, that isn’t really the point I was arguing if you read my latest reply above.

                Anyway, a terribly prolix clue (jk)

                1. I can only reply to what I see when I comment. Everybody else seems to have understood, or simply accepted that because OBTUSE ANGLE wouldn’t fit, ACUTE ANGLE had to be the answer. 50/50 choices sometimes have to be made by the solver, eg interpreting “rower” as either “oarswoman” or “oarsman” as the space in the grid requires.

                  1. I wasn’t trying to imply that you should have read replies that might not even have been written when you started your own, I was just redirecting you to save repeating myself.

                    And the clue works – I mean I figured it out too – I just think the word “quite” makes the clue not quite as right as it could be

  11. N.H.O. STRUMAE, KOTO. F.T.P. TANGIBILITY. But all correct so no complaint.

  12. Where are all the other ‘guys’? Expected to come here and find a plethora of comments on this dastardly one! But no: perhaps some still trying to figure it out…
    I was encouraged to keep going by getting a few of the across answers on first run: BRISKET, OPEN ALL HOURS (without reference to The Two Ronnies) COMPOS MENTIS ( by letter distribution and a PDM on finding the definition, with no idea of the double meaning of ‘dress’) and THETA. Didn’t get PILLOWCASE ( but what a lovely definition! And still don’t understand the reasoning behind “one’s job perhaps” – sorry K. The NHO STRUMAE wasn’t too hard to guess, nor the unheard of KOTO – so very fair clueing. Admit to cheating for TANGIBILITY (too much like hard work) and FREMANTLE DOCTOR, of which I had vaguely heard but forgotten. All up an exceptional contribution from Dean.

  13. Thanks Dean and keriothe
    Was able to do this in a single session, although it took a solid 80 minutes to complete. Happy to be able to parse all except for BRAVO, where I working around BRAVE instead of BRAV[AD]O. Had landed on the dinner ‘being prepared’ to justify ON in MONARCH and thought that it was a very neat clue. In fact, most of the clues were quite brilliant and challenged one to keep the lateral thinking turned on to maximum in order to get this done.
    STRUMAE was the only new term, but was able to construct it with the word play comfortably enough. Finished in the NW corner with LOUSE (tricky use of ‘milk’), PILLOWCASE (brilliant cd) and PLAYFUL (eked out slowly , with an ‘oh yeah’ moment when the logic twigged).

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