Sunday Times Cryptic No 5061 by Dean Mayer — the duck, though…

This was just delightful, a tasty dish that I virtually inhaled—nothing here was at all 10. It wasn’t until after finishing that I noticed the similarity between the odd birds flanking the grid in the top Down answers in the NW and NE corners. This can’t be a coincidence!

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

 1 Generous like John? (6)
LAVISH   “John”-ish, W.C.-ish, loo-ish…
 4 What beggar did was attractive (8)
 9 Academic’s course covering old news (7)
11 Enemy, about to crack safe, waving flag (4,3)
EASE OFF   FOE<=“about” breaking into (safe)*
12 Wild African lion from western state (11)
CALIFORNIAN   (African lion)*
14 See bank failing to open (3)
ELY   [-r]ELY   In the sense of a diocese, a bishopric…
15 They want to be well away from home (6,8)
HEALTH TOURISTS   CD, playing on “well”
18 Tom cat in Sri Lanka’s caught. Cheers! (6,1,7)
THANKS A MILLION  TAMIL LION (“cat in Sri Lanka”) has in its claws America’s favorite “Tom,” the exemplary Mr. HANKS.
19 Fish found in fishin{g ar}eas (3)
GAR   Hidden
20 Take this if you’re pretty tired? (6,5)
22 No device to trap clubs that crossed the line (3,4)
NOT COOL   NO T(C)OOL   You might simply say “NOT COOL!” to tell someone they’ve overstepped the bounds.
23 Pull girl over who isn’t keeping up? (7)
LAGGARD   DRAG, “Pull” + GAL, “girl” <=“over”
25 They cut corners in two directions after running faster (8)
FRETSAWS   (faster)* + WS (West and South)
26 I’ll be home shortly before 6 (6)
CRIKEY   CRI[-b], + KEY, 6 being ESSENTIAL
 1 Vietnamese leader, badly clued however (2,3,3)
LE DUC THO   (clued)* + THO, though, “however”   The communist revolutionary nationalist (1911–1990) was the first Asian to be offered the Nobel Peace Prize, but he refused the award, which would have been shared with Henry Kissinger, a notorious American war criminal still among the living—and whose 100th birthday is, in fact, being feted as I write (May 27).
 2 Morrison’s delivery vehicle (3)
VAN   DD   …Odd situation these days, when most people just wish the famed “Celtic soul” vocalist would shut his bloody gob
 3 Unfriendly small pet (5)
Your neighbor’s chihuahua, amirite?
STIFF   S(mall) + TIFF, “pet”
 5 Plastic time capsule or, possibly, gold (8,5)
PRECIOUS METAL   (time capsule or)*
 6 Pure rock salt seen around island (9)
ESSENTIAL   (salt seen + I[sland])*
 7 Least restrained abundant plant (11)
LOOSESTRIFE   LOOSEST, “Least restrained” + RIFE, “abundant”
 8 Duck down and fear for your leaders (5)
DAFFY   First letters, “leaders”   Wikipedia says DAFFY Duck, “the third-most frequent character in the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons,” “was one of the first of the new ‘screwball’ characters that emerged in the late 1930s to replace traditional everyman characters who were more popular earlier in the decade, such as Mickey Mouse, Porky Pig, and Popeye.… Daffy…was something new to moviegoers: an assertive, completely unrestrained, combative protagonist. [Animator Bob] Clampett later recalled: ‘At that time, audiences weren’t accustomed to seeing a cartoon character do these things. And so, when it hit the theaters it was an explosion. People would leave the theaters talking about this daffy duck.’”
10 In(cr)edible? (4,2,7)
HARD TO SWALLOW   A double definition of a sort, though only the idiom (for whose definition the parenthetical part is necessary) would be in a dictionary, as the literal interpretation (surrounding it) doesn’t need to be.
13 Apparently hide in shelter, treat the injured (11)
LEATHERETTE   LE (treat the)* E
16 Gloomy eastern state opens to American (9)
TENEBROUS  T(E)(NEBR)O US   The four-letter abbreviation for NEBRaska is unusual these days.
17 Angry, I criticise rejected email address (2,1,5)
IN A PADDY   I + PAN, “criticise”<= “rejected” + ADDY, “email address”
19 Iron Horse upset US thief (5)
GANEF   FE, “iron” + NAG<= “upset”   Yiddish originally, but the spelling “gonif” is apparently more common outside the States.
21 Sweet part of asparagus tips (5)
SUGAR   Hidden reverse (as the containing word “tips”)
24 A British seabird (3)
AUK   A + UK, “British”


31 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5061 by Dean Mayer — the duck, though…”

  1. Can you please provide further enlightenment on 10D please as I’m finding your explanation slightly more cryptic than the clue itself? I assumed at the time that “CR” represented either “Chromium” or “Credit” and am still none the wiser…

    1. I think it’s just a play on the phrase, superimposing (via the parenthesis) two definitions for it, the idiomatic expression and the literal sense. Never occurred to me that “cr” might mean anything in itself. If it is meant to, it would seem rather convoluted to have another level, not that I can imagine what chromium or credit would do there.
      Is this the one clue that will be HARD TO SWALLOW?

  2. Thanks for the response. I think I get it now, but the clue seems a bit weak and unsatisfactory IMHO – as I find most of the one-word-question-mark style clues favoured by this particular setter!

  3. My beef is with 26ac. I’m obviously missing something here but why is 6 ‘essential’?
    This was my LOI in an otherwise enjoyable and quite straightforward puzzle. Because the clue starts with “I’ll be home shortly”, I put DREKLY as a variation on the Cornish word ‘dreckly’ which can mean ‘any time in the next two weeks and possibly even before your holiday rental has come to an end’.
    Thanks for TENEBROUS and HARD TO SWALLOW, Guy, even though I still find 10d difficult to understand.
    I enjoyed HEALTH TOURISTS. Haven’t seen that old chestnut ELY in a while.

    1. My goodness, “dreckly” sounds like something my West Virginian hillbilly father would say (for “directly” of course).
      The answer to clue 6 is ESSENTIAL. Which is why I put the answer in capital letters, as all answers are rendered in my entries (unless I slip up). Numerals in a clue usually or typically refer to another clue.
      I think the decidedly offbeat 10 is really just too obvious, so solvers may look for more than is there.

      1. Dear, oh, dear! Sometimes I think I should give up cryptics! I completely missed the connection to ESSENTIAL. Gloom! Thanks, Guy! Good blog!
        PS…West Virginia? Hatfields & McCoys territory?

        1. Those feuding clans were in the area of the Kentucky border. I’m from the interior, not too far from dead center (that’s in an adjacent county). The Guardian ran an article a few years ago about my hometown (Webster Springs) and home county (Webster). It’s headlined “A fierce desire to stay”—something I must say I never felt…

          1. Thanks, Guy. I found that story quite moving. Thanks for the link to it.

  4. 51 minutes but with 1dn incorrect as I NHO the Vietnamese leader and I misplaced the two remaining unchecked vowels.

    I was going to say NHO GANEF or LOOSESTRIFE but both appeared in Jumbos within the past two years when I contributed to the discussion but didn’t mention them so I assume that as in this puzzle, I solved them correctly and with confidence.

    I certainly NHO ADDY as an email address which I assume is Australispeak, nor of CRIB as ‘home’ which my dictionary advises is an Americanism.

    1. Both Merriam-Webster and (British) Collins have ADDY, with no attribution to Down Under.

      Funny thing about “crib”—I didn’t look it up, but see now that, although this definition is in Collins and marked there as US informal, it is not listed in Merriam-Webster, but further down the page, under the heading “Articles Related to crib,” you find “9 Words for Places People Call ‘Home’.”

      1. At least historically, “crib” is British slang too. In my copy of the Penguin Dict of Historical Slang, which is the pre-WW1 content of Eric Partridge’s slang dictionary, there is a quote for this meaning from Oliver Twist.

    2. I’d never seen GANEF spelled that way; I’d write ‘gonif’. ODE, oddly enough, has both, without any cross-reference:
      ganef (US) (informal) a dishonest or unscrupulous person. Origin 1990s: Yiddish, from Hebrew, literally ‘thief’.
      gonif (also goniff) (N.Amer.) (informal) a disreputable or dishonest person… Origin: mid-19th cent.; from Yiddish ganev, from Hebrew gannab ‘thief’.

      1. “Oddly” more than enough. Quel bordel ! Or, should I say, Oy vey! The ODE needs to get its act together, eh?

  5. An enjoyable puzzle with only THANKS A MILLION causing parsing problems until the TAMIL LION was pointed out to me.
    I had NHO LOOSESTRIFE but worked it out from WP looking it up after, nor GANEF which again from WP.
    I had HARD TO SWALLOW as CR Chromium = HARD as it is, inside ‘in edible’ and moved on.

    1. But then the thing that happens to be HARD wouldn’t be “in edible” but “in ‘in edible’”…

  6. I found that easy for a Sunday finishing in 35 minutes, though I have to admit to googling LE DUC THO of whom I‘d never heard to check my answer. Purple Loosestrife was a common plant where I grew up. Inedible / incredible is simply a double definition I am sure.
    Thanks Guy and setter

    1. Putting it like that I agree with you. At the time I just moved on to the next clue without rethinking it.

  7. There was so much about this one I just didn’t get, and my (paper) copy is littered with question marks and NHOs. Q marks at 22ac – for which I had NET GOAL, playing on the ‘crossed the line’ aspect. Makes as much sense to me as, what was it, NOT COOL? Had no idea about 26ac CRIKEY, NHO 1d, 16d, 19d, and although I got THANKS A MILLION it was a fill-in with no understanding of why. Didn’t see the ‘tamil lion’ thing. Not my best showing by a long way, but as ever will strive to learn from the excellent blog. Thanks.

    1. “not cool” is not an answer that you can look up in a dictionary, but the meaning seems clear – if you look up “not cool” on Wikiquote, for instance, you will see examples which I think clearly have the meaning used. If you look up “net goal” there (with the quotes), you won’t see any examples.

      This is intended as advice, not just justification, and my other bit of advice is that if you think the answer is something like “not cool” or “net goal”, you should only write it in (especially without a full set of checking letters) if you can find supporting wordplay. If you look at the latest solve of a Friday Times crossword on the “Cracking the Cryptic” Youtube channel, there are a few moments when someone who I’m pretty sure reached the Times Crossword Championship final once or twice admits to not knowing the meaning of his proposed answer for certain, but is confident because the wordplay works.

      1. Don’t often get the chance to thank you for all your hard work. You have the patience of Job. So thanks.
        On a good few occasions down the years we’ve got the answer to a clue from the cryptic definition, a word we’ve never seen before. Today GANEF was an example, we had to look it up.
        That’s what we love about cryptics, you get two shots at the answer.

        Tom and Janet, Toronto.

    2. Share the same page with you, SBeginner, in the several NHOs and “off-centre” definitions. All of which made for some generous cheating and a less than satisfactory completion of the puzzle, despite appreciating some of its finer (if perhaps more obscure) points. As you say, it’s a constant learning experience, and I’m totally “up for it”.

  8. 8:03. Fingers crossed at the end for the unknowns LE DUC THO and GANEF. I thought LE DUC seemed a bit more likely than LU DEC, but that’s probably just because it means something in French, so for a Vietnamese name this was really just a lucky guess.

  9. 36.32

    Just about managed to tease out the plant at the end but it was just as unknown as ADDY, GANEF and the leader. Had EL DUC BUT at one point (I know I know).

    Liked LAVISH and TA A MILLION – the latter of which raised a smile

    Thanks Dean and Guy

  10. Finished, but cheated. Found it a bit odd.
    Surprised I got CRIKEY as I still don’t associate CRIb with home, and KEY is not my first thought re “essential”.

  11. 55 minutes and one mistake (LOOSESTRIPE rather than LOOSESTRIFE). I did manage to struggle through the rest, some of which was very good indeed.

  12. An enjoyable offering from Mr Mayer – spoiled by my not having heard of the Vietnamese guy and plumping for Lu Dec Tho – to my mind slightly more plausible than Le Duc Tho… but there we go… LOI CRIKEY, hampered by not having 6D until pretty near the end. Having postulated that I hadn’t used that expression in 50 years, I then used it within the following 24hours and caught myself doing so! I sometimes think we solvers have to beware of sounding like characters out of a 1930’s Dornford Yates novel with words like that coming up all the time! Bit of a MER over NOT COOL = cross the line and NHO GANEF, but in the end, what else could it be?

  13. lots of NHOs from several quarters. Tenebrous falls into that category and I don’t mind admitting Nebraska would never have occurred to me

  14. Fell at the several NHOs: Le Duc Tho, ganef , tenebrous, loosestrife , health tourist (‘tho that one guessed correctly). Sent off in several misdirections by unseen definitions, like “I’ll be” and “they cut corners” and “like John”.
    Setter 10, Jacaroo 0.

  15. Thanks Dean and guy
    Really pleasant solve in two half hour-ish sittings, the first over a late brunch and less than half done when the coffee had gone cold. Did remember the first two thirds of the Vietnamese leader but had to wait for 15a to complete him. LOOSESTRIFE, GANEF, ADDY and CRIB were all new terms for me.
    Enjoyed untangling some of the more complex word play, such as in THANKS A MILLION (although did struggle with the order of the bits until seeing that one needed to read it as TAMIL LION (not tiger).
    Finished down the bottom with LEATHERETTE, NOT COOL (with the penny drop definition of ‘I’ll be’) and CRIKEY (a commonly used Aussie expression that took a lot of working out cryptically why).

Comments are closed.