Sunday Times Cryptic No 5013 by Dean Mayer — What doesn’t kill me…

What a fine puzzle! We have everything here, from a hidden word through CDs to an &lit. Two philosophers, and plenty of food for thought. It seemed hard—but maybe that’s just me. It is all so clear now!

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


 1 Silly shower base without shower (14)
SCATTERBRAINED  SCATTER, “shower” + BED, “base” around RAIN, “shower”
10 Stop travelling overseas (5,2)
HEAVE TO  CD Lexico: “(of a boat or ship) come to a stop, especially by turning across the wind leaving the headsail backed.”
11 Sing, performing in C — ordinary (7)
CONFESS  ON, “performing” encased by C + FESS, a band on a coat of arms, which is to say a type of “ordinary”—and I actually knew that. FESS seems to be more commonly spelled with a terminal E.
12 Wear me out in return for living in privacy (10)
RETIREMENT  TIRE ME, “Wear me out” enveloped by RENT, “return for living”
13 Wheels around Zulu leader (4)
CZAR  C(Z)AR  Zed is “Zulu” in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, forgetting which may lead one at first to mistake “leader” for a first-letter indicator rather than the definition. Nice misdirection!
15 Butterfly caught with slugs around (5)
COMMA  C(aught) + AMMO<=“around”  This member of the anglewing family is so-called because of white markings on the underside of its wings that resemble the versatile and (sometimes more, sometimes less) necessary punctuation mark.
17 Kicks nurse once treated (9)
RENOUNCES  (nurse once)*
19 Gamer’s bonus right on map before “good game” (6,3)
EASTER EGG  EAST, “right on map” + ERE, “before” + GG, “good game”  Little surprises of this sort are also sometimes hidden in other, non-gaming software.
20 Those supporting Mr Morgan (5)
PIERS  DD  …This had me stumped for a minute. I first became aware of the TV personality in April 2013 when a former friend of mine, singer/songwriter Michelle Shocked, appeared on his show in the aftermath of comments she made at a San Francisco venue about the LGBT+ community, which words effectively destroyed her career. And I can’t recall hearing much about PIERS Morgan since!
21 A couple of exquisite moments (4)
ITEM  Hidden  …Underlined for those using Dark Mode, who won’t see red.
22 On-line clip of idiot — he’s quiet for one (7,3)
CLOTHES PEG  CLOT, “idiot” + HE[’]S + P(iano), “quiet” + EG, “for one”—and the definition is rather cryptic.
26 Child and friend stone cold (7)
TOTALLY  TOT, “Child” + ALLY, “friend”
27 It is put into Italian food (7)
PASSATA  PAS(SA)TA—an &lit! In the wordplay, “It” is S(ex) A(ppeal), and PASSATA is indeed a sauce for Italian cuisine. …News to me!
28 Intriguing cartoon is April Fools (14)
CONSPIRATORIAL  (cartoon is April)*
 2 Bird seen around end of dawn chorus (5)
 3 Run-off that is in front of the wave (10)
TIEBREAKER  T(IE)BREAKER  T = “front of the” + BREAKER, “wave” engulfing IE, id est
 4 Net profit is the aim of such business (1-8)
E-COMMERCE  CD, playing on “Net”
 5 A philosopher’s postgraduate study (5)
BACON  BA, CON, “study” comes after—is “post”—BA, “graduate” (Edited)
 6 One charged with opening of night spots (4)
ACNE  AC(N)E  …After giving up on ION, I found myself wondering how an ACE could be considered “charged”—d’oh! Of course, that just means it’s carrying the N.
 7 He thought Zen ethics misplaced (9)
NIETZSCHE  (Zen ethics)* …I love this clue! (though I can imagine that Herr N might have found a Zen approach to life rather congenial…)
 8 Face full of sweat? Call for help (8,6)
 9 Fancy attic’s rare in trendy property (14)
Minimalist garrets are hot now.
CHARACTERISTIC  (attic’s rare)* inside CHIC, “trendy”
14 Drink with reporters or censor (10)
SUPPRESSOR  SUP, “Drink” + PRESS, “reporters” + OR, literally
16 Be on terms with struggling cook (3,6)
MRS BEETON  (Be on terms)*  That’s Isabella, author of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, as well as other things, including cookbooks.  …She hadn’t turned up here for a while, so I was in danger of forgetting all about her.
18 Club almost on tee / hole (9)
NIGHTSPOT  NIGH, “almost” + T(ee) + SPOT, “hole”
23 Film actor quietly leaves (5)
24 Have fun on a beach (5)
PLAYA  PLAY, “Have fun”  on A …This is a PLAYful puzzle! The site of the Burning Man festival is called the Playa, but it’s been an eon since there was a body of water nearby. In Spanish, PLAYA simply means “beach” or shore. In English, it refers rather to a geographic feature of the American West, “a temporary lake, or its dry often salty bed, in a desert basin” (Collins). But the Spanish sense is no doubt familiar to many Anglophones, as it features in the names of towns and resort hotels around the world.
25 Cuff that is small and round (4)
SLAP  S(mall) + LAP, “round”


47 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5013 by Dean Mayer — What doesn’t kill me…”

  1. I found this hard going but I don’t think I ever got totally stuck. I got there in the end with LOI TIEBREAKER. I think NIETZSCHE must win some sort of prize for the most unlikely set of letters that leads to an answer. Some very concise and elegant clues here, such as NIGHTSPOT. No problem with HEAVE TO which I recall some people had issues with last time in showed up, I even know how to set the sails to do it so that the boat sits there gently moving back and forth without going anyway.

    I think you have too much underlined at 5D.

  2. Found this tough but brilliant, and I just couldn’t get the RETIREMENT/TIEBREAKER intersectors at the end for the life of me, so a DNF and a check of this here blog to see I was an idiot to have convinced myself that 3d had to end in ‘WATER’ – run-off = rain water, wave = water. Just me being immovable.
    Tried to justify CLIP instead of SLAP for a while, and didn’t know PLAYA but guessed it.
    BACON and PASSATA joint favourites.

  3. I thought I knew how Mrs Beaton spelled her name, but I didn’t. Check the anagrist, for Grist sakes! Very enjoyable apart from this blemish, and a MER at ‘fools’ as another of the long list of unconvincing anagram indicators.
    25:21 with a stinky pinky. Very close to an error free month, but it’s all gone pear-shaped recently.

  4. 26:45
    Another winner from Dean. DNK PASSATA or FESS; got CONFESS from an alphabet trawl, and looked FESS up. LOI 20ac PIERS; the only Morgan I could think of was the pirate, and I couldn’t remember his first name–finally remembered this one. NHO 19ac EASTER EGG; I just figured that the ‘game’ was the Easter egg hunt. I liked 12ac RETIREMENT, 22ac CLOTHES PEG, inter alia, COD to 6d ACNE.

  5. ‘Old Scatterbrains’ took close on an hour to complete this.

    FOI 24dn PLAYA
    LOI 25dn SLAP!
    COD 16dn MRS. BEETON – she wasn’t much of a cook apparently!

    We Brits never used to go in much for 19ac EASTER EGG Rolling. Noted in parts of Lancashire and extremes of Scotland.
    “In 1876, shortly after a particularly rambunctious Easter egg roll destroyed much of the lawn at the Capitol, Congress passed a law making it illegal to use the Capitol complex as a children’s playground.” Now they should extend that law to The Proud Boys etc. Buster Philips allowing of course!

  6. 46 minutes. Very enjoyable and a bit less difficult than the usual Dean puzzle. Favourites were the cryptic def for HEAVE TO, the misleading def for CLOTHES PEG and especially the &lit PASSATA; as far as I can tell, it’s just a fancy name for tomato purée. Happy to have remembered FESS for ‘ordinary’.

    For 5d, is a BA a ‘postgraduate’, rather than an undergraduate, degree or student? I suppose once you have the letters BA after your name you are a postgraduate, but I think of a BA as an undergraduate degree or student. Probably just me.

    Thanks to Dean and Guy

    1. Not just you; I had the same query re 5d. I don’t use the term ‘postgraduate’, but I’d apply it to M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, not BA.

    2. I wondered if the study was post (after) the graduate, necessitating the question mark.

      1. Yes, as the blog (edited) actually said by the time you apparently got here, and as editor Biddlecombe explains in a comment below.

  7. 40 minutes. NHO PLAYA but trusted the wordplay.

    As mentioned above it is absolutely true that Isabella Beeton was not a cook. No doubt she could turn her hand to it if required (though she probably had servants to do that sort of thing for her) but she was principally a journalist, editor and publisher, and any recipes published under her name were stolen (i.e. reproduced without crediting the source) or acquired from elsewhere, mainly sent in by her readers*. Originally these were to be found in a cookery column she published in The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine but she included many more in her famous Book of Household Management which contained advice on all manner of domestic duties and home-making, not just cookery.

    All this has come up before and on one of her more recent appearances in a Times puzzle the setter used the more accurate definition ‘cookery writer’.

    *I’ve since learned that a single published recipe is believed to be her own, one for soup that she concocted to serve to the poor of her village during a particularly severe winter, but one batch of soup does not a cook make.

    1. Seems you mean “stolen (i.e. reproduced without crediting the source)”…
      So her cookbooks were cooked!

      1. Yes. Duly amended. Thanks. It’s useful to be able to amend a typo after someone has replied — something we couldn’t do on Live Journal — but I fear we are are going to lose this in a planned update.

        1. I hope I wasn’t the only one who asked about revising a posting after it had been replied to (I was explicitly neutral on the idea). I imagine that LJ’s reason was to avoid replies becoming meaningless or contradictory when the original poster revises his text to meet or obviate the replier’s objection or point. (A friend of mine once was the editor of a collection of conference papers, as well as a commentator on one of the papers; the author of which kept revising his paper to answer the commentary.)

          1. I don’t see a problem with allowing corrections (as on Facebook), especially when our colleagues here are generally apt to acknowledge an accepted correction. The chances of confusion are minimal in this context.

          2. Something like this is the reason Twitter doesn’t allow corrections: they want people to be able to understand replies and reactions to a tweet in the context of the original. Seems pretty sensible to me.

            1. I could restore, with strike-thrus, my (and apparently several others’) original parsing of BACON, but thought that would be clear from the comments, including Peter’s. But I’m curious: Did you see “postgraduate” as containing a position indicator, or decide that the term isn’t necessarily wrong for a BA? I wasn’t looking for a position indicator, as the clue did not seem to need one. “Graduate studies” is also a phrase, but “postgraduate” may have seemed more appropriate for someone already deemed a philosopher. And that wouldn’t be a mere BA.

              1. I just read it as BA = postgraduate. Now that I think about it there’s something a little inadequate about this, because a postgraduate is specifically someone pursuing further study. I am a graduate but have never been a postgraduate.

        2. I have no intention of stopping people amend a comment after it had been replied to in a future update (it has been suggested but is not being progressed), not least because I’ve no idea how to implement it!. Besides which I regularly do it myself.

          1. Thanks John. I noticed it’s under ‘Blocked or Parked’ on Trello rather than ‘Rejected’ and assumed it was still on the agenda. I can see that on some social media platforms it might have some value when people are holding heated discussions and there is potential to make mischief but in a friendly forum like this it’s not really needed.

            1. Yes I agree with this. On balance I think it would be better to avoid confusion but it isn’t really necessary.

    2. I think it’s absolutely true that Mrs B became famous for her cookery writing rather than being a cook, but “definitely not a cook” seems overstated. See this biographical piece, for instance:

      I’ve read elsewhere that apart from being trained in pastry cookery, she was in a very large family and must have done some of the cooking there, and that her household with her husband, until she died in her late 20s, had the minimum of servants.

      1. Thanks, Peter. I based what I wrote on information from a documentary about Mrs B screened a few years ago. If it was mentioned that she was trained in pastry making I had forgotten that, however it was stressed that she never worked professionally as a cook in any capacity, whatever the extent of her interest in the subject.

        Her name is now associated more closely with cookery and running a household than any other activity so I’d accept nothing of this invalidates the clue but I was merely attempting to point out a popular misconception.

  8. 35 very concentrated minutes. COD to HEAVE TO amongst many good ones. Thank you Dean and Guy.

  9. When I finished this I wrote “Best crossword so far this year!” on it. In the cold light of a week later I am not quite so certain .. but it is right up there. A fine effort, with some great clues, such as 15 or 22ac.

  10. 40m 24s but spoilt by Mrs BeAton and a momentary lapse of reason in putting ‘clip’ i.s.o. SLAP. So two errors.
    Nevertheless another good ‘anax’ puzzle. 10ac HEAVE TO was typically succinct.
    Thanks for RETIREMENT, Guy, but I find ‘return for living’ = RENT a bit far-fetched.
    I enjoyed the juxtaposition of 23d LAYER and 24d PLAYA.
    Thanks Dean and thank you, Guy.

  11. Pleased to finish this in 58 minutes getting FOI SCATTERBRAINED quickly which is always helpful.
    Needed the blog to fully understand RETIREMENT and EASTER EGG and also PASSATA which I should have parsed. ACNE parsed post solve. DISTRESS SIGNAL BIFD and at 18dn NIGHTSPOT took a while to see SPOT/HOLE.
    NHO PLAYA trusting in wordplay too.

  12. I didn’t think I would finish this, but I got there in the end with LOI TIEBREAKER -nicely timed for Wimbledon.
    I also struggled with HEAVE TO.
    In a scatterbrained moment, I also had Mrs. Beaton so my goose was cooked.

  13. A little u der the hour soon the tougher side. A number of clues needed fine working out including CZAR, CONFESS (another NHO fess), and EASTER EGG.

    I particularly liked TIEBREAKER, E-COMMERCE, CLOTHES PEG (once I got it!), PASSATA and CONSPIRATORIAL. Very enjoyable challenge.

    Thank you Mr Mayer and Guy.

  14. Minor points:

    19A: As “game” isn’t in the dictionaries for G, I queried it (though I’d allow “games”=>G from umpteen league tables in the same paper as the puzzle). It turns out that GG = “good game” is in Collins as a “messaging & social media” abbreviation.

    20A At least in the UK, Piers Morgan is a well-known figure, as the length of his Wikipedia article might suggest.

    27A Passata is really just a less concentrated version of tomato puree, so rather dull as a sauce, and really just an ingredient.

    5D I’m sure “postgraduate” was intended to show that CON followed BA = “graduate”. I don’t allow indications like “Gateshead”=>G, as it doesn’t mean the head of a gate, but would allow “masthead”=>M, and decided that although “postgraduate” strictly means “after becoming a graduate”, “after” was accurate and the idea seemed clear enough.

    1. Ah, I see GG in that sense is in Collins. Adjusted accordingly.

      You’ll have to take it up with that dictionary on calling PASSATA a “sauce.” I just took its word for it—as I, at least, am certainly no cook.

      The somewhat jocular splitting of a compound word as in “postgraduate” is not something I recall seeing here before. Indeed, I had thought it was virtually an innovation of my friends Joshua and Henri, and the ploy has in fact caused some dissension among their test solvers.

      My remark on PIERS Morgan was not meant to indicate anything about his level of notoriety in the world at large; I assumed a link would be superfluous for this audience.

      1. Guy, the splitting of compound words is commonplace in the Guardian cryptic which I have taken to doing every day since the first lockdown, but I don’t recall seeing it in The Times Monday to Saturday.

      2. Whatever the dictionaries say, I’m with Peter: I wouldn’t call PASSATA a sauce, since it consists purely of sieved tomatoes and isn’t really used on its own. Tomato puree and paste are just PASSATA with varying amounts of water removed, which was traditionally done by drying it on wooden tables in the sun.

  15. A great crossword. I’m really pleased (and surprised) to have it all done and dusted in 35 minutes this morning. We’ve just had the heraldric FESS somewhere else, so that helped. Lots of favourites. COD CLOTHES PEG

  16. Great stuff, if a little tricky in parts. I got stuck at the end on my last, TIEBREAKER, for quite a while, taking me to over 24 minutes. I was pleased to remember FESS from a recent puzzle. Hard to pick a favourite clue, but COMMA got the biggest tick on my copy. Thanks Dean and Guy.

  17. 14:19. Super puzzle, trickyish but not too hard.
    ‘Ordinary’ to indicate FESS is a bit of the obscure leading the obscure but I recognised both from previous puzzles and the clue is solvable without the knowledge anyway. COMMA as a butterfly is another thing I only know from doing these.
    I was sorry to hear about Piers Morgan. Not that anything’s happened to him, I was just sorry to hear about him.
    PASSATA is brilliant.

      1. Thanks. I can’t take the credit though: I stole the gag from someone on (I think) Twitter, but I can’t remember who. The original referred to N**** F***** I think.

  18. Ok, this is a silly question probably ,but did the setter intend Roger or Francis for BACON? Or either? Or both? My first thought was Roger as I considered Francis to be an “essayist ” primarily, but I see looking him up philosopher is what he is termed.

    1. It’s decidedly undecidable! I didn’t even think of Roger. Opting for the painter wouldn’t have raised this existential question.

  19. An hour and a quarter for a superb puzzle (but this is what one comes to expect from Dean Mayer). All of the clues were fair but delightfully misleading, my favourites being DISTRESS SIGNAL, TIEBREAKER and CLOTHES PEG. For 10 ac I briefly considered HEAVE HO, but fortunately I realised it didn’t really fit the definition.

  20. Thanks Dean and guy
    Surprisingly finished this one quite quickly for me in 38 minutes across a couple of sittings. SCATTERBRAINED was the first in which gave a good start to many of the down clues. Had to check with a number of answers and bit answers, such as FESS, PASSATA, PLAYA (still didn’t realise that it was the Spanish word for ‘beach’ until coming here) and the spelling of NIETZSCHE.
    Loved the definition for CLOTHES PEG and the clue for E-COMMERCE. Didn’t have the trouble that others look like they did with TIEBREAKER.
    Finished with that PASSATA, CHARACTERISTIC (after finally untangling the word play) and RETIREMENT (with the definition that was slow to come to mind).

Comments are closed.