Sunday Times Cryptic 5085 by Dean Mayer — covering a lot of ground

My favorite puzzles are always those that educate me at least a little bit, along with drawing on knowledge I already possess (though it may be on the verge of being forgotten). This very pleasurable exercise extended my (scant) horticultural learning, as well as being informative about history, symbology and another thing or two.

I indicate (Ars Magna)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Temple’s unfinished book reproduction (15)
 9 November is a new month (5)
NISAN    N (for which “November” is a communications codeword) + IS + A  + N(ew)    On the Jewish calendar, usually falling in March or April
10 Was lurcher good separating deer and wild deer? (9)
STAGGERED    STAG + G(ood) + (deer)*
11 After this, picked up a hanky? (7)
ATISHOO   “a tissue”   &lit!   …Probably because the American version is “achoo,” I had at first misspelled this with C instead of S. That letter’s not a crosser, so it’s lucky that I eventually checked.
12 Short note about theatre award for Broadway? (7)
13 Racecourse jockeys not scared (9)
DONCASTER    (not scared)*   …It’s been a while, but I feel like awarding another Creative Anagrind Prize (surely not the first time I’ve seen it, but it fits perfectly in this clue).
15 Supporting of evidence (5)
PROOF    PRO, “Supporting of” + OF, literally
17 Simpson held by record company as an icon (5)
18 Living one, a shellfish (9)
CRUSTACEA    CRUST, “living” (yer daily bread) + ACE, “one” + A
20 A crossing made by Drake’s ship once (7)
PELICAN   DD   Two weeks ago, we had ZEBRA CROSSING, a term alluding to the white stripes on the asphalt at these intersections. A PELICAN crossing, however, which looks nothing like a PELICAN, is an evolution of the term PELICON crossing (PEdestrian LIght CONtrolled), meaning one where pedestrians have available a call button to activate a walk signal. PELICAN is also the original name of the Golden Hind, the ship (rechristened mid-journey) in which Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580.
21 How Pierre will give you an opinion (7)
COMMENT    “How” in French
23 Measure journey time for train (9)
ENTOURAGE    EN, printer’s “Measure” + TOUR, “journey” + AGE, “time”
24 Latin name for German game (5)
LOTTO    L(atin) + OTTO
25 Zip was fastened, many an alteration to it (5,5,5)
SWEET FANNY ADAMS    (was fastened many)*   I will not recount here the ghastly origin of this seemingly innocuous phrase. Edit… At least as it pertains to tinned meat. Collins (for “fanny adams,” capless and sans “sweet”) gives separate origins for that sense and the one here.
 1 Ask for money in God’s name? (9)
Televangelist scum!
PANHANDLE    PAN, “God” + HANDLE, “name”
 2 Game that involves spinning round (7,8)
RUSSIAN ROULETTE    CD, playing on “round” (of ammunition)
 3 Funny feeling round one’s back (5)
 4 Edge of bouquet in bloom (4,3)
NOSE OUT    NOSE, “bouquet” + OUT, “in bloom”
 5 Butter spread over book (7)
GRAMMAR    RAM, “butter” + MARG, “spread” <=“over”
 6 Men declared success at snooker club (9)
NIGHTSPOT    NIGHTS, “knights”/“Men” + POT, “success at snooker”
 7 Performers taking bows onstage (6,9)
STRING ORCHESTRA    CD, playing on “bows”
 8 Ground cover filling refu{se dum}p (5)
SEDUM    Hidden   “Sedum is a large genus of flowering plant…, members of which are commonly known as stonecrops” (Wikipedia). Our definition alludes to the fact that SEDUM is commonly used as just that, being “a cheap alternative to grass”; it is also used to cover roofs (“The Javits Center in New York City is covered with 292,000 square feet [27,100 m] of Sedum”) and fill in between the tracks of tramways (in Berlin, Le Mans, Warsaw and elsewhere).   …You learn something new every day! (With any luck…)
14 Battle against royal household (9)
AGINCOURT    AGIN, “against” + COURT, “royal household”     25 October, 1415
16 Bust is cut for a cross (9)
FRACTIOUS    (is cut for a)*
18 Piece of music as farewell after prison (7)
CANTATA    CAN, “prison” + TATA, “farewell”
19 Sam is one, and mostly dirty (7)
20 Stuff in cupboard (5)
22 Cross country (5)
MALTA    CD    Between 1530 and 1798, the islands of MALTA and Gozo were ruled by the monastic Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, which had as its emblem the eight-pointed symbol (“a heraldic cross variant,” says Wikipedia) that came to be known as the Maltese Cross and has in the ensuing centuries been adopted by numerous entities all over the world.


22 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 5085 by Dean Mayer — covering a lot of ground”

  1. 66m 05s
    17ac: I had been thinking of Absurdist playwrights recently, after IONESCO was in a cryptic so when I saw SIMPSON, I thought of NF Simpson ( “One Way Pendulum”).
    22d was, for me, a typically succinct Dean Mayer clue thus my COD.
    Thanks, Guy!

    1. Never heard of N.F.! Believe it or not… Thanks!
      It was a bit of a shock to see the author of If I Did it show up here.

  2. I enjoyed this a lot once I got going with it. I did take a couple of days before anything other than NISAN clicked. No one favourite clue. Parthenogenesis (from my stick-insect-keeping days as as child), grammar and metonym were very pleasing.

    Guy, I’ve just read your link to Fanny Adams. Shocking! I’m only a few miles from Alton and had no idea of the local connection.

  3. 36 minutes. Nothing too tricky here although I didn’t know the begging meaning of ‘panhandle’.

    I could see NOSE OUT if defined as ‘edge out’ but I’m not sure it corresponds to ‘edge’ on its own.

    Whatever the grisly origins of SWEET FANNY ADAMS it’s now taken to mean ‘nothing at all’ with FANNY ADAMS substituting for another expression, and I don’t mean Football Association!

    1. Re EDGE, I had the same thought. But I don’t argue much with dictionaries, and Collins has…
      « 13. Informal | to defeat in a contest by a narrow margin
      often with out »
      “Often,” yeah, tell me about it… Anyway, that’s in an American English listing, and doesn’t have it at all.

      I feel confident in asserting that many, if not most, people today probably assume that “Fanny Adams” (sans “Sweet”… as is the entry in Collins—and uncapped!) came to mean “Zip,” zilch, nada, nothing as a mere euphemism for that shocking phrase we’re all now thinking of. And they may be right! In any case, I see now that Collins gives a separate origin for the sense relating to the tragic story recounted at my link and the definition in the clue.

  4. Very enjoyable crossword, timed at 40 minutes, with the last 10 of them spent on 5d, 12ac, 18ac. NHO 1ac, 9ac, 12ac, but got them from the wordplay. Some lovely clues, simple yet challenging. Thanks, all.

  5. I really loved this, with its clever surfaces and delightfully deceptive definitions – ‘was lurcher’ – haha…! RUSSIAN ROULETTE was a bit of a gimme, but I was pleased to tease out SWEET FANNY ADAMS with just 5 letters in place. The clueing was generous for 9A, which I couldn’t have come up with otherwise. With GRAMMAR, it took a long time, as with the G and A in place, I was fixated on goat as the butter. LOI METONYM, one of those words the meaning of which I’m never really clear about, so this was an brilliant educative example that will hopefully stand me in good stead in the future. I, too, was a bit startled at the appearance of OJ, but you can’t say he’s not infamous!

  6. A top class, champion’s league crossword, this one. Look for example at 13ac and marvel.. and lots more like it.
    Wonderful stuff..

  7. Our setter’s a most clever man
    In general, I am quite a fan
    Enthusiasm doth wane
    When we see once again
    The accursed bird PELICAN

  8. Could anyone please explain to me how 5d works? I’m not sure I’m following this explanation

  9. @Lucas, a RAM is a butter in the sense that it butts into things. MARG is a spread (short for margarine). Those both go ‘over’ i.e. reversed to get the definition ‘book’ (a book of grammar rules can be called a grammar)

  10. Yes, well, this was a Dean Mayer puzzle and so: very difficult, very fair, and absolutely wonderful. The best part is that I completed it correctly (in about 75 minutes), including all of the exotic meanings of common words and the many unknowns in it (like SEDUM, METONYM and SWEET FANNY ADAMS). Just superb, as always.

  11. Needed a lot of help to get going today: which was a shame as much of it was superbly fiendish ! I just wish I’d had the patience to seek out those pesky hidden definitions- “was lurcher” indeed! And hidden anagrists too, like “jockeys” used to perfection. As it was, I probably got about half of the answers, but was surprised by some of the definitions, like “book” =“grammar”, which I’d not heard of before. Also “zip” is a very uncommon synonym for zilch/nada/nothing, n’est pas? But mustn’t grumble- it was a superb puzzle.

  12. Thanks Dean and guy
    Only got to this on returning from a driving holiday along the south east coast of NSW and escaping the deluge on the way home. An excellent crossword that took just under the hour and a lot of head-scratching to complete. Was pleased to remember NISAN as the Jewish month early on and the PELICAN crossing, but had to look up the former name of the Golden Hind, SEDUM, METONYM (cleverly clued) and PARTHENOGENESIS.
    Always enjoy his CD’s with 2d and 22d doing nothing to change that opinion.
    Finished in the SE corner with CRUSTACEA, that MALTA and COMMENT (pleased to remember some schoolboy French).

  13. 11a — I get “this” as part of the clue but what are the “a” at the beginning and the two “oo’s” at the end? And if the “this” is “ashoo” (never seen this spelling), where does one get the “ti”?

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