Sunday Times Cryptic No 5055 by Dean Mayer — on the qui vive

You have to be on your toes for this one! Something could slip right by real fast, if you’re not careful. All these clues are extremely succinct, and yet they run the gamut of clue types and devices. Elegant and entertaining as ever. Attention!

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

 1 Spades have to be put in soil (4)
SOWN   S(pades) + OWN, “have”
 3 Set of dance moves without expression (5-5)
STONE-FACED   (set of dance)*
10 See group with judge in despair (4,5)
11 Shed tears over one line about musical content (5)
LYRIC   CR(I)Y + L(ine) <=all “over”
12 Viz advice for caravan owner (2,3)
13 Brand of drink — pop, yellow bottles (6,3)
14 Tall order for embassy (4,10)
16 She has been fairly treated (8,6)
20 Bird caught while very alert (9)
CASSOWARY   C(aught) + AS, “while” + SO (“very”) + WARY, “alert”
21 Do that which makes quiet impossible? (5)
SHOUT   SH, “quiet!” + OUT, “impossible”   &lit!
22 Knock down a bloke (5)
FELLA   FELL, “knock down” + A
23 Apparently it is a downtown area (5,4)
INNER CITY   You’ll find “it” inside CITY.
25 Out to lunch after Fred’s partner snaps (6,4)
GINGER NUTS   GINGER (Rogers, who danced with Astaire) + NUTS, “out to lunch”
26 Language introduced by Ludw{ig Bo}ltzmann (4)
IGBO   Hidden
 1 Spotted story about getting shot outside (8)
 2 Initially, it looks like this (7)
WYSIWYG   CD   What You See (on your computer monitor) Is What You Get   …When I began my long career as a typographer, in 1985, the Compugraphic Editwriter did not have this feature, a fact that seems incredible now.
 4 Leaves squad short (3)
TEA   TEA[-m]
 5 I depend on no shelter, up to a point (3,8)
NOT ENTIRELY   NO + TENT, “shelter” + I RELY, “I depend”   In a Down clue, it seems counterintuitive to have that last part indicated as being “on” the first, rather than the other way round. (I do, however, expect what is said to be “on” something else in an Across clue to follow that something.)
 6 I could “self-slur” circulating this? (4,10)
FULL DISCLOSURE   (I could “self-slur”)*   &lit, or semi- if you prefer
 7 Transported box with handles (2,5)
CB RADIO   CD   Citizens band radio became particularly popular, and CB RADIOs—the boxes—particularly mobile, in the United States in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis, as truckers took to the airwaves to alert their fellows to well-supplied gas stations and to where cops were lying in wait for violators of the new nationwide 55 mph speed limit. The nicknames by which users identify themselves are called “handles.”
 8 City, within a week or so, deteriorates (6)
 9 Sweet little memory about old departed (5,9)
WHITE CHOCOLATE   WHIT, “little” + ECHO, “memory” + C, circa, “about” + O(ld) + LATE, “departed”  I have found WHIT only as a noun, meaning the smallest part of something imaginable, rather than as an adjective (except in relation to Whitsuntide), which “little” would seem to be here… on the surface, that is. But “little” can also be a noun, meaning a small amount, quantity or degree, or a short distance. “More than a little tricky” = “More than a whit tricky”
13 Groom gets nothing in it in an arranged marriage (11)
COMBINATION   COMB, “Groom” + (it in an + O, “nothing”)*
15 Watch broadcast on wild orgy (6-2)
Oh, good… orgies have been so tame lately…
SENTRY-GO   SENT, “broadcast” + (orgy)*   Guard duty   This isn’t in Collins (online, anyway) or, but there are numerous references online, often without a hyphen. It also means (first definition in M-W) “a call for the changing of the guard.”   …The one NHO this time.
17 Letter I left in printer? (7)
18 Catching nothing snooping around (7)
19 Winter mist, poor forecasting — rants about leaves (3,3)
ICE FOG   (forecasting)*   …Man, was this hard to see!
24 Egg noodle (3)
NIT   DD   “Egg” of a louse, “noodle” in the sense of a fool, a NITwit


54 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5055 by Dean Mayer — on the qui vive”

  1. Let me be the first to say that 2d is a disgrace as a clue. The use of initials shouldn’t be allowed in cryptic crosswords in The Times, in my opinion, regardless of the fact that this one is in Collins. I once saw B.O.A.C. in a David Astle crossword in the Sydney Morning Herald but that’s Australia for you. Bah humbug! It didn’t help that I could not make sense of 1ac for some reason, though, with hindsight, it seems obvious.
    I’m triply annoyed because I mistakenly put in NUT for 24d when I knew it was NIT. Bah humbug again.

    1. WYSIWYG is not pronounced “double-you why ess eye double-you why gee,” you know.
      I don’t see any problem.
      WYSIWYG is no different from SNAFU (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up).

      The advent of WYSIWYG at my workplace was a glorious day!

      1. Well, I do see a problem. WYSIWYG might have been welcomed in your workplace but, to me, it has no place in a Times cryptic. It opens the door for all the other initialisations spawned by the internet such as ROFL. But, pardon me for having an opinion. At least you didn’t ask what B.O.A.C. means.
        I would be mildly surprised if others don’t comment adversely on 2d by the end of the day.
        BTW, your opening comment about pronunciation I found a tad odd.

        1. It’s not pronounced like initials, as you implied (see your example).
          No more than NATO is pronounced “En-A-Tee-Oh.”

          And you are, of course, perfectly entitled to have an opinion. I don’t think you have a valid criticism of the puzzle, though, and I have a right (or even a duty) to say that.

          I think I know what B.O.A.C. means (“Flew in from Miami Beach, B.O.A.C. / Didn’t get to bed last night…”), and I know for sure it’s not pronounced BOWACK. Nor is WYSIWYG ever spelled with intervening dots, like B.O.A.C. And I think ROFL is pronounced as if it were spelled R.O.F.L., no? Like LOL, which isn’t “loll.”

          You would have to object on the very same ground to SNAFU (for one).

        1. Is that meant for me?
          If it is, HTFWIK? I don’t care how it’s pronounced. I maintain that it is not a word as such, just a collection of initials representing a phrase. Whatever you want to call it, I leave to the language experts.

          1. It was meant as a reply to Guy’s first reply to you, but wound up down the line. I’ll have to remember HTFWIK.
            I was not pleased with the clue, to say the least, but I think a distinction should be made between initialisms (CDC, UNHCR, etc.) and acronyms (SNAFU, NATO, etc.). The latter are words, and pronounced as words. And they show up in puzzles here, without objection or comment. The only initialism I can think of that I’ve seen here is TV, of course as part of a larger phrase.
            I’d like to know, by the way, what MER is. I take it to be an initialism, so in comments I say, “I had an MER …”. If it’s an acronym, of course, it would be “a MER”.

            1. Thanks, Kevin. Yes, have wondered about MER, as well!
              (HTFWIK may be, as Shakespeare said, ‘an ill-favored thing sir, [’tis] but mine own’)

              1. I know what MER means; what I want to know is, is it an initialism or an acronym? The glossary doesn’t tell me.

                    1. I coined this term as shorthand and have always said it to myself as a single syllable. Gold, Frankincense and MER.

            1. Both have long since been recognised words, however they may have started out life.

        2. Collins: wɪziwɪg
          It’s made up of one-syllable words, and two of the letters (W, appearing twice) have three syllables, so pronouncing the initials would save no time! Hard to imagine anyone ever saying it any other way.

          1. Afterthought: wiziwig sounds like a product IKEA might sell; something like a bookcase. But it ain’t something that belongs in a crossword!

            1. Haha. But I suspect you would feel differently if you had known the term.

              Or if you had a personal and/or professional attachment to what it represents. I can’t imagine doing magazine or website production now without WYSIWIG. It’s simply inconceivable.

              I think you’ve had some association with aviation. Are you going to complain when NASA crops up here someday?

              1. NASA is nowhere near as esoteric as wiziwotsit. It is part of everyday language.
                BTW, I did have an association with aviation…it lasted 46 years. And B.O.A.C. was commonly referred to as ‘BOW ACK’.

    2. Wisiwig has long been in the language as a word. Chambers lists it as such. My only problem is that non-wisiwig typesetting programs are so rare now that I’d temporary forgotten it. Back in the day when I was cutting my teeth on a BBC micro I had Word to contend with. All then talk the was about whether a wisywig word processing program could be produced for such a small machine.

      1. “Wisiwig has long been in the language as a word”
        Not in my world it’s not. I still think it would be better off in IKEA as a bookshelf. Not everyone lives in the esoteric world of typesetting.

        1. The change in software described by Guy also applied to the word processing software that made typewriters obsolete. I’m sure some people here can remember “preview mode” which is now what you see by default. That’s a much bigger world than typesetting.

    3. It’s heart warming to see you dismiss the entire population of Oz on the strength of one crossword clue.

      1. Don’t be ridiculous. That’s an enormous leap of logic to got to here from there. I lived in Sydney for 20 years so I’m very familiar with the country. I also used to see David Astle on “Letters & Numbers”, the Australian version of “Countdown”, and had the greatest respect for his talents but I disagree with using initials/acronyms in crosswords, as he did with BOAC.
        For further comment, I refer you to Monty Python’s French Taunter.

  2. DNF
    27:12, but I threw in the towel at 2d; totally at a loss to fill in the unches. And I can see why: I’ve probably only seen the abbreviation two or three times, and of course I was looking for a 7-letter word. (Nor do I know what the feature is that Guy refers to.) Failed to parse ICE FOG. No problem with SENTRY-GO, which I knew from “Iolanthe”; it’s in ODE, though not

    1. It simply means that you will see what you are typing just the way it will come out on the page.
      On older machines, you could be setting justified type but the lines would all be flush left on the screen and breaking according to the screen size, not the actual page size.
      Copy editors would have to mark the output (xeroxes of it, as the actual type was on stiff photographic paper sliced into columns with an X-Acto knife and rubber-cemented to a board on the wall) for the typesetter to rebreak the text to make the justified type look nice, with reasonably similar spaces between the words in all the lines of the paragraphs.
      With WYSIWYG, I took on the job of “smoothing” the type in this way. I did a better job of that then than computers do now (no one takes the time for that anymore), but now there’s more to look at on our pages than just words.

  3. 46 minutes.

    No problems with WYSIWYG which I would say as ‘wyziwig’ (with s sounding like z as in ‘visit’), a term I heard bandied around as a basic computer user when new office systems were introduced during the 1980s and long before I was involved in any technical stuff. As others have said, we allow other acronyms (sets of initials voiced as words) so why not this one?

    I’m interested in the use of ‘on’ in 5dn as discussed by Guy in his blog. It’s the first time I can recall seeing this not meaning ‘on top of’ in a Down clue, but it has been discussed here before. In a very informative discussion in 2018, Peter B wrote: …. my copy of the guide for Times setters (not supplied in the expectation that I would enforce all the rules therein) confirms that the “B,A” idea only applies to Across clues, and in Down clues, “A on B” can only mean “A,B”. It also says “This is a Times convention”. Times conventions do not apply in current Sunday Times crosswords.

    1. I did remember, eventually, that conventions on this vary between the Sundays and the dailies, and I was rather counting on you to find that conversation, Jack! Since there are many more dailies to be worked than Sundays, accepting the use of “on” in that clue required me to shift gears. I prefer the dailies’ convention on this, since it makes “on” an unambiguous position indicator, while it works in opposite ways in the same puzzle here, in 5 and 15, but I recognize that “on” does not necessarily mean “on top” so there’s no other or better reason to insist on it.

  4. Thanks to jackkt for saying some of what I would have said about “on”. I think the Times convention about it in acrosses is distinctly odd. Assuming that “on” means “next to”, names like Southend-on-Sea and Henley-on-Thames seem ample evidence that “A on B” can mean A next to B in the A,B order in real life. As far as use in downs goes, all words are normally written horizontally, so I have no problem with a down answer being treated that way. (The idea that you can treat words in down clues as if they (rather than a down answer or parts if it) are written downwards is something I personally see as ridiculous nonsense.)

    On WYSIWYG, the Oxford Dictionary of English classifies it as an adjective, with “acronym” mentioned in the etymology. The only comment I’ve received from anyone else about 2D was among others about the puzzle and amounted to “cheeky” rather than “unfair”.

  5. As someone of only modest ability when it comes to crosswords, I have enjoyed the Sunday Times one for many years now, but have noticed the degree of difficulty has increased substantially over the last 3 months or so. Whilst a clue such as 19 down will cause considerable frustration but is still ‘fair’, 2 down in my opinion is totally out of order and depends on knowledge which most solvers will not have and does not offer any chance of solution from the clue, given the answer’s mix of consonants.
    Any more like this and I will sadly have to throw in the towel!

      1. Or resort to aids. I don’t like to do so, but if I’m convinced I won’t know an answer and I have all the checkers in place, I don’t see it as any sort of disgrace. If it’s a puzzle I’m blogging I would always own up to it here.

        1. Not a disgrace at all, but a slippery slope, yes.
          If I am wrestling with a clue I don’t want “just look it up” to be sitting there, on my shoulder. Either I solve it, or I don’t.. at least then it is down to me

          1. It depends how one views it, and each to their own of course, but if I look anything up it’s after my attempt on the puzzle has finished so there’s never any doubt in my mind that I have failed to solve the puzzle completely. At that stage I don’t see any difference between looking the missing answer up and waiting until the next day when it’s revealed in the blog or the newspaper.

    1. We are a bit like yourself but when we are completely stumped we go to these sites to solve a clue which usually gives us crossers which enable us to finish the puzzle.
      or WYSIWYG was in the list on this site but we didn’t see the connection. We’ve learned a new word, as we have with 15d. Never heard of SENTRY GO but we got it from the cryptic definition. That’s what we love about cryptics. In a straight xword, if the clue had been WATCH (6,2) we’d never have got it.

      Tom and Jan, Toronto.

  6. 19dn did for me this time. I argued, not convincingly, the nut = egg, but I must admit that I could only muster egghead to support that. This is the first puzzle in many months I’ve not completely correctly. C’est la vie! Other than that, I found this a most enjoyable puzzle

  7. Well i liked this one … wysiwyg no problem to anyone with even the vaguest IT credentials.
    NHO ice fog, but had heard of icy fog, which seemed near enough.
    I am surprised sentry-go is not in Collins, but I couldn’t find it. It is in the OED, of course, but seems to be rather dated. The last quoted example is from 1938 (Brighton Rock, apparently.) I think I knew it from good old George MacDonald-Fraser

  8. 11:06 but with two errors. Total disaster!
    I have no problem with WYSIWYG appearing in the crossword (it’s undoubtedly a word) but it’s arguably uncommon enough to merit some wordplay. I knew it, and exactly what the letters stood for, but still managed to type in WYSIWIG.
    My other error was NUT. Not sure what was going on there: just a lack of attention I guess.
    I associate CB RADIO with The Dukes of Hazzard, which I loved as a kid. The handles of the main characters were ‘Shepherd’ (Uncle Jesse), ‘Bo Peep’ (Daisy) and ‘Lost Sheep’ (Bo and Luke). I was innocent of such things as a child but these days a car decorated with the Confederate flag called ‘General Lee’ would be pretty shocking.

  9. Never heard of 2d and I think it is easily a rare enough word (accepting that it has become snafu-like) to need some w/p. No problem with unknowns of course but in a cryptic construction I think it is not a great clue. Shame, the rest was excellent. About 45 minutes with that one left uncompleted

  10. Completely side-tracked by this one: every clue I looked at seemed to be obscure… normally really enjoy Dean’s offering. So gave up with 8 unsolved, my first in being LYRIC, after deciding to knuckle down and write out the cryptic steps, followed by HIGH COMMISSION and PEROXIDE BLONDE (an expression I haven’t heard for decades). Loved WYSIWYG btw: clever clue. Put in GINGER NUTS with slight hesitation (how many younger solvers would remember Fred and Ginger?) and IGBO with a shrug and a vague memory. Not my finest hour (literally an hour), after yesterday’s full completion.

    1. I caught up with this one after coming back from holiday, so after you, this time! I had to see what the blog had to say about it. I did complete it, but I can assure you it took a lot longer than an hour, with 1A and 2D holding out for 2 or 3 days of revisiting. That said, I didn’t understand 19D, so put in ICY FOG instead of ICE FOG. And, like Keriothe, stupidly put in an I as the penultimate of WYSIWYG, despite knowing the acronym. So well done to get all but 8 in an hour! I think the number of comments for a Sunday shows that people were pretty exercised about it, and it was definitely on the difficult side.

  11. Thanks Dean and guy
    Ended up with an error in this one – but not one of the ones mentioned. Sheer carelessness of not checking the anagram fodder, resulted in a STONY-FACED rather than a STONE-FACED result. Took a tad under the hour over a late breakfast this morning to complete it.
    IGBO was my second one in – remembered it from reading a book “There Was a Country – A Personal History of Biafra” about 6 years ago when I was curious as to what had caused the starvation there in the 1960’s.
    Had no issues with WYSIWYG and enjoyed seeing the subtraction anagram to derive ICE FOG. NIT was top of mind following its appearance in another puzzle within the last couple of days. Didn’t see the clever part of IT being the ‘inner city’ in 23a.
    Finished in the NW corner with SOWN, SPLOTCHY and LOSE HEART the last few in. A really enjoyable crossword.

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