Sunday Times Cryptic 4977, by Robert Price — Brain Salad Surgery

A painless and entirely successful operation! Inspired by 14—or just for the hell of it—I’m listening (via YouTube Music) to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s fourth studio album, whose title I’ve copped for my headline. I may concur in the clue’s judgment, but the record was quite popular at the time.

Very economical cluing, with shiny surfaces you can skate on—none of them sounding like word salad! Devices of a feather flocking together: 25 & 26 both insert an R from a man’s initial; 6 & 7D both deploy homophones; 19 and 21D are both DDs.

I indicate (G-man Sara)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Charlie’s new salary reduced pressure over work (10)
NINCOMPOOP — N(ew) + INCOM[-e], “salary reduced” + P(ressure) + O(ver) + OP, “work” …One of those unfortunate pejorative terms that tars a perfectly good given name. I feel sorry nowadays for all the nice women named Karen.
 7 Greet trouble with aspiration (4)
HAIL — H for the “aspiration” + AIL for “trouble”
 9 Prisoners are about finished making excuses (8)
…well on the way to rehabilitation…
10 Fast learner overwhelms Wimbledon’s second seed (6)
LENTIL — LENT, “fast” + L(earner) engulfing the I in “Wimbledon”
11 National Society for Vegetables (6)
SWEDES — SWEDE, “National” + S(ociety) Another name for the rutabaga …If this were singular, we could simply have a DD.
13 Advance or keep on retreating? (8)
RETAINER — RETAIN, “keep” + RE<= (“on”) …I don’t get much of a spark from this, because the senses of RETAIN in clue and answer are so closely related.
14 Fans’ favourite record was ELP bizarrely (5-7)
CROWD-PLEASER — (record was ELP)*
17 Stage acts of violence here? (7,2,3)
20 Boys’ side prepared for rebels (8)
DISOBEYS — (Boys’ side)*
21 Flyer beginning to suck one’s blood (6)
SISKIN — S[-uck] + I[’]S, “one’s” + KIN, “blood”
22 Spinner that’s like the rest but taller (6)
SPIDER — The cryptic bit here relies on your knowing that the answer is also a term from billiards, snooker, pool, for a support for the cue that lifts it higher than the one called a “rest” (referred to in Friday the 15th’s 15×15).
23 Lover of old, large (and small) illustrations (8)
EXAMPLES — EX, “Lover of old” + AMPLE, “large” + S(mall)
25 Look pleased — Robert’s opening spirit bottles (4)
26 Consumed by pretty girl, Romeo’s boring crush (10)
DISHEARTEN — The “pretty girl” is a DISH, EATEN is “Consumed,” and R (Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet) is digging in.

 2 Press report of sport items forged perhaps (8)
IRONWARE — IRON, “Press” + “wear”
 3 Clubs take too much, they get battered (3)
COD — C(lubs) + OD, “take too much” …referring to a way these fish are often prepared
 4 Not much harm in using less (5)
MINUS — Hidden
 5 Keep your eyes peeled, say (7)
 6 Etiquette of two girls in conversation (9)
POLITESSE — “Polly” + “Tess”
 7 Manual skills picked up, useful around boats (11)
HANDICRAFTS — “handy” (“useful”) + CRAFTS, “boats”
 8 Stay in central Lima in the same place as before (6)
IBIDEM — I(BIDE)M …most usually seen in footnotes as “Ibid.”
12 Subdued blue and violent red don’t go together (11)
DOWNTRODDEN — DOWN, “blue” + (red don’t)* Brilliant surface, integrating a great anagrind, beats 14 by a hair for COD
15 Chosen soup finally handed over (9)
…dealing with a Soup Nazi?
PREFERRED — [-sou]P + REFERRED, “handed over”
16 Degree courses on English language (8)
BALINESE — BA, “Degree” + LINES, “courses” …Had me wondering for a minute if MALINESE is a language.
18 Streets sporting canopies (7)
TESTERS — (streets)* Tied with violent in 12 for today’s Creative Anagrind Prize. I knew this from somewhere, but why does the word mean that? Collins: “ME testere < OFr testiere, headpiece, crown of a hat < teste, the head < L testa”
19 Kid who pinches things (6)
21 Lean over (5)
SPARE — DD, the second being the sense of “over” defined in Collins as “remaining; surplus (often in the phrase left over).” Maybe my LOI (I can’t remember, though I worked this last night).
24 Mean couple one’s escaped from (3)
PAR — PA[-i]R

20 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4977, by Robert Price — Brain Salad Surgery”

  1. Unthinkingly put in IRONWORK. DNK SPIDER, but no problem with the checkers in. Liked SPARE, COD to DOWNTRODDEN.
  2. Guy, You noted quite correctly that Brain Salad Surgery (Manticore-Atlantic) was quite popular at the time (1973) — but that was in the US, where the album did not enter the top ten album charts (Billboard). In the UK it was hugely popular rising to number two. (18 weeks in the charts – only beaten to top spot by ‘Yes’!) I saw them in Dusseldorf, 1973 — happy daze! Giger’s album cover was way ahead of its time.

    FOI 24dn PAR



    Time: Larghetto

    1. Was at Wembley Empire Pool, April 18 1974. Quad PA. Tarkus and BSS full versions. OMFG. Mind-bending.
      Still go to see Carl’s trio every tour.
  3. ELP’s Knife-edge introduced me to Janáček. SPARE and CROWD-PLEASER are great but COD to DOWNTRODDEN.
    1. Two raves about 12dn but I only required the first word of the clue to make it a write-in,
      as I had the first three crossers. Thus a trip round IKEA wasn’t called for, and I moved swiftly on!
      1. It was my COD too. The smoothness and perceptivity (juxtaposed red and blue make the eye palpably vibrate, and the adjectives respectively attached to the colors are apt in describing their typical psychological effects) certainly weighed more in my estimation than any political implication (to which I am, of course, also sensitive).
    2. Knife-Edge… Didn’t know this number. Having listened, how is it connected to Janacek? Heard some Bach in the keyboards, however.
      Gill D
  4. 34 minutes, with time wasted having entered Ironshot for IRONWARE before the SWEDES put me right. It took me a while to see the spider, my COD, but then I spent my youth in Church youth clubs playing table tennis and not in the snooker hall. I am also a bit too old to have picked up on the Emerson, Lake and Palmer reference but I’m sure they were CROWD PLEASERs. I’d left University and been working for the man for three years before they were even formed. Another really good puzzle. Thank you Robert and Guy.
  5. ….for taking the time to TARKUS through this gem of a puzzle from Myrtilus — definitely a CROWD-PLEASER.

    Having seen the Wimbledon theme at 10A, I wondered if LENTIL could be used as a homophone for Ivan LENDL. I also particularly liked Charlie, the blood-sucking finch, the clever snooker clue, and the excellent COD — what a clever clue for such a small word.

    FOI HAIL (which could be in the offing, looking out of the window this morning)
    COD DOWNTRODDEN (brilliant !)
    TIME 10:35

  6. COD was my FOI, and I managed to get IRONWARE first go. It took me a while to shake blue out of the anagrist for DOWNTRODDEN. NHO TESTERS in the required sense, but it had to be. LOI was IBIDEM after a PDM. 32:46. Thanks Bob and Guy.
  7. 25 mins.
    We’re gonna give you some Brain Salad Surgery, starting off with Jerusalem, moving into a piece by Ginastera that we call Toccata …

    Thanks, g.

  8. I associate TESTERS with four-poster beds, and indeed Chambers says:

    ‘a canopy or its support, or both, esp. over a bed’.

  9. Got off to an encouragingly speedy start with FOI 14ac CROWDPLEASER, and the SW corner fell into place from there, with several more scattered throughout. Stalled somewhat until 1ac NINCOMPOOP unlocked the NW and made steady progress to LOI 13 ac RETAINER in around the hour mark. Enjoyable enough. Thanks to blogger and setter.
  10. 14:27. Another very enjoyable one. 75% of my kids have appeared in these puzzles in the last couple of weeks, I’ll be looking out for the complete set.
  11. COD got me started but COD to either SISKIN or NINCOMPOOP.
    My struggles were LOI SPARE (another great clue) and TESTERS where I was unaware of that definition.
    Most enjoyable and I was finished by 2.20pm.
  12. was my FOI and SOI Crowd Pleaser even tho’ ELP is a little before my time: so my TOI Downtrodden was a gimme, as blue is inevitably down. Spider was my COD but note to our illustrious blogger – I have never seen one used on a pool table. Time 9:01 for an easy Sunday
  13. “Knife-Edge” is based on the first movement of Leoš Janáček’s orchestral piece Sinfonietta (1926), with an instrumental middle section that includes an extended quotation from the Allemande of Johann Sebastian Bach’s first French Suite No. 1 in D minor, BWV 812.
  14. Thanks Bob and guy
    Able to get this completed in a single session and was able to progress solidly through the grid. Seemed to be able to get the long clues quite easily with THEATRE OF WAR being the second entry. Had both ELP Works albums but couldn’t really get into Brain Salad Surgery as a youngster – been ages since I have played them.
    Interestingly did an old 2019 Times puzzle over the weekend as well which had a similarly clued SISKIN in it as well – funny how serendipity like that happens.
    POLITESSE was the only new term but was easy enough to deduce from the clue.
    Finished in the top half with NINCOMPOOP, OBSERVE (quite a tricky dd) and RETAINER the last one in.

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