Sunday Times Cryptic No 5107 — PlayTime

This was a romp! By which I do not mean it was terribly easy—where’s the fun in that? I was happy to be obliged to do some stretching here and there and get some healthy exercise.

I indicate (Ars Magna)* like this, and words flagging such rearrangements are italicized in the clues.

 1 Draw out its shock when announcing an award (8,5)
PULITZER PRIZE    “Pull its surprise”!
 9 Mark Lambert, murder victim (5)
LABEL    L(ambert—scientific unit of brightness) + ABEL, “murder victim” in the biblical fable   …Not sure I’d ever heard of a lambert before, but I didn’t hesitate. Later saw the same word in a clue in the same Sunday’s Mephisto.
10 Soft material, effective protecting old whisky (9)
TOWELLING    T(O)(W)ELLING   Collins and give “whiskey”—with an E—as a word used in communications (e.g., in the NATO phonetic alphabet) to represent the letter W, but they do not list that definition for “whisky” sans E (like Scotch), as it is here. Merriam-Webster gives that definition for both spellings, and capitalizes the word in that usage, which both Collins and both do and don’t do (two entries each) for “Whiskey.”
11 Party leading newsman to get hammered (8)
THRASHED    THRASH, “Party”  + ED(itor), “newsman”
12 Old man on cold stout (6)
CHUBBY    C(old) + HUBBY, “Old man”
14 A mechanical part in an inventor’s trousers (4-7)
BELL-BOTTOMS    BELL(BOTTOM)S   Nick BOTTOM, of course, is a character in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a weaver and one of the “rude mechanicals” (manual laborers) who act in the play within the play.
16 Odd page ripped from behind (3)
18 Second in the race, out of s{eve}n (3)
EVE    Hidden   “Second in the [human] race,” according to the myth in Genesis
19 Enclosure with hundreds working outside bathed in light (3-8)
SUN-DRENCHED    (hundreds)* with ENC(losure) inserted
20 Fastener husband used to secure a pipe (6)
HOOKAH    HOOK, “Fastener” + A + H(usband)
21 Salt measure added to pastry (8)
TARTRATE    TART, “pastry” + RATE, “measure”
24 Spa hotel or a great alternative (9)
HARROGATE    H(otel) + (or a great)*
25 Vegetable left by a primate (5)
26 Food hopper where a chip might go? (4-2-3-4)
TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE    TOAD, “hopper” + IN THE HOLE, “where a chip might go?”—“chip” here being short for a “chip shot” in golf
 1 Tasty drink turning up on a list (9)
PALATABLE    LAP<=“turning up” + A + TABLE, “list”
 2 Unusually creditable and moral politician (7,8)
LIBERAL DEMOCRAT    (creditable, moral)*
 3 Shoots without opening negotiations (5)
Happens much too often these days…
 4 Worrying about rent, busted for begging (10)
Sadly, an all-too-common situation…
ENTREATING   EATING, “worrying,” with (rent)* inserted
 5 French not accepting width in feet (4)
« Est-ce que ces chaussures font paraître mes pieds gros ? »
PAWS    PA(W)S    …Oh, now I get it—the surface must be a reference to the European adherence to the metric system.
 6 Like clumsy words he refined with Collins (3-6)
ILL-CHOSEN    (he, Collins)*
 7 Dancing tutor got behind a military show (9,6)
EDINBURGH TATTOO    (tutor got behind a)*   The derivation of this TATTOO (from the Dutch) is entirely different from that for the word meaning a design inked on the body. Originally a drum or bugle signal calling soldiers to return to barracks, the sense now extends to mean a military pageant or display, typically nocturnal. Wikipedia: “The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of military tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands, and artistic performance teams on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in the capital of Scotland. The event is held each August as one of the Edinburgh Festivals.”   …News to me! And I even cheated a little to find this one, so probably my last.
 8 Like French toast for one chap on vacation (4)
EGGY    EG, “for one” + GUY
13 Explosive coverage of The Sunday Times competition (10)
15 Order about a month before a dance (5,4)
BOSSA NOVA    BOSS, “Order about” + A + NOV(ember) + A
17 Crazy write-up, mostly on Eastern coral (9)
MADREPORE    MAD, “Crazy” + REPORT, “write-up, mostly” + E(astern)
20 Barrier set low in response to crack? (2-2)
22 Tip on triangular sword’s conical housing (5)
TEPEE    Triangular + EPEE, “sword”
23 A French filmmaker’s worn out broadcast (4)
TATI    “tatty”   Jacques Tati (1907–1982), one of the all-time greats of cinema, with just six full-length features to his name. Mais ce n’est pas comme ça que ça se prononce ! Maudits anglophones…  Tati was also a mime, and his films, in which the director plays the nearly mute protagonist, Monsieur Hulot (with umbrella in all weathers and eternal imperméable), are rather more visual than verbal. He didn’t direct so much as choreograph, and the composition of each shot is as artistic as it is expressive.   …Last night, I (re)watched (and downloaded, courtesy of YouTube) Tati’s 1967 masterpiece.


31 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5107 — PlayTime”

  1. “Whisky” as the indication for W in 10A is plain common sense. The Nato “phonetic” alphabet “letters” are spoken, not written, in normal use, so the -y and -ey spellings are equivalent. Anyone who says that “whisky” is wrong for W must logically also say that “Juliet” is wrong for J, as the official “spellling” is “Juliett” (presumably because it encourages Francophones to pronounce the final T).

    1. Cool. I didn’t think anything was wrong with the clue. I am fascinated by differences between dictionaries.

      Collins online has a listing from an American dictionary defining“whisky” as “(especially referring to Scotch and Irish whiskey) whiskey.” This is surely wrong. Irish whiskey is always spelled with the E!, however, is right, defining “whisky” as “ whiskey (used especially for Scotch or Canadian whiskey).”

      It does seem odd that there are two “T”s in the NATO alphabet’s J—something I don’t recall ever noticing—since it’s a phonetic code and the second T is silent, in addition to that’s being not a common spelling (sans a terminal E). Collins doesn’t have an entry for “Juliett.” Tho NATO alphabet is of course but one example of such a code, and one-T “Juliet” suffices for others.

      1. The two Ts are surely there to ensure that French speakers who see the official list pronounce the final T. (In French, Shakespeare’s character is Juliette). It turns out that A as well has J has odd spelllng – “alfa”, though I’m unsure who would ever pronounce “ph” differently. I’ve seen a statement in more than one place that the NATO (and ICAO) alphabet is designed to ensure that English, French and Spanish speakers of the code words produce the right sound.

        1. Claro. Maybe they thought that someone would add an unaccented schwa if the J code were spelled “Juliette.” Seems only a French speaker would do that, and only if it were followed by a consonant in poetry or song…

        2. It follows that you might allow ‘mic’ for M. I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere yet though.

          My favourites were EVE and HARROGATE. Last one in, TOURNAMENT – I just couldn’t see it for ages!

          1. Er, no for “Mic”, as the M-word is “Mike”rather than “Mick” – possibly because “Mick” and “Nick” would be easy to confuse.

            1. I see mic for microphone and pronounce it as mike though. Collins and Chambers seem to agree. I take your point on the spelling.

              1. I’ll never get used to “mic” as “mike,” and fought back as long as I could as a copy-editor!

  2. Here’s something fascinating about whether Whisk(e)y has an “e” or not. If the country it comes from has an “e” then so does its Whisk(e)y. The one exception is Makers Mark in America (with an “e” so normally it would be Whiskey, but Makers Mark is Whisky).

    I enjoyed this crossword. I love Robert Price’s elegant clues, although not usually as difficult as (say) Dean Mayer’s (who I see is doing the Jumbo GK Crossword today).

    1. I was regularly drinking Maker’s Mark’s French Oaked #46 recently. Maker’s Mark contains no rye, having instead, as the ads say, “soft winter wheat.” (This week, I’m back to the “high rye” New Riff.)
      Old Forester (on sale continuously for 150 years, longer than any other bourbon) and George Dickel are two other bourbons that drop the E on their labels. Dickel thought that thus implicitly classing his brand with Scotch was placing it on a higher level. I’ve always preferred Irish!

      The existence of Japanese whiskey would seem to falsify your theory, without my needing to look any further.

      1. When I lived in San Francisco, there was a bar/restaurant that had “dickel and a pickle” on the drink menu. You downed the shot of whisky and then ate the pickle.

        1. Ah, I saw some listings with “E” but didn’t look closely enough at the actual labels.
          I don’t find the notion plausible, however. How would such a thing be decided, and by whom? And why would that matter? I think “-ky” is generally chosen to indicate a more Scotch-like expression, though there are clearly arbitrary exceptions.

          It seems Danish whisky (from DEnmark)—a relative newcomer—typically has no E.
          Like Stauning Rye Danish Whisky.
          Or this one…

          A random search (one UK online outlet) indicates that Germans have no preference:
          Hardenberg Club Straight Rye (or Straight Wheat) Whiskey
          Beverbach Single Malt Tequila Finish Whiskey
          Freud Whisky Distillers Cut (or 2012/10 Year Old/Distiller’s Decade)—Single Malt Whisky
          Saillt Mor 2014 8 Year Old Whisky Sponge Edition No. 73a—Single Malt Whisky
          Stork Club Straight Rye Whiskey

          1. Chambers differentiates the E spelling as Irish and US. I can’t help thinking a Scottish preference might have come to the fore. I also note both E and non-E spellings work for Whisk(e)y meaning a light gig.

  3. Failed on the last one in MADREPORE, a coral I’d never heard of. Is this perhaps a British coral now growing in response to climate change? For want of anything better I put in MADDEROSE, which could conceivably have been a coralline colour related to rose madder. Unfortunately not so, as evidenced by three coral pink squares.

  4. I know I made notes of a couple of things I wanted to say about this puzzle but in the meantime I’ve somehow disposed of the printout and I can’t remember what they were. All I can recollect is that most of this came quite easily but I fell at the last hurdle and used aids to get POTTO which I had not remembered as a primate although I had blogged it in September 2022. I noted at the time that its other name is ‘softly softly’ which might have helped it to stick in my mind, but didn’t on this occasion. I had wanted to put PONGO this time but was thwarted by the T-checker.

    Edit: I am reminded by Corymbia’s comment that I also went for MADDEROSE, so that was another fail.

  5. 20.58

    Usual excellent fare from Robert and what an anagram for LIBERAL DEMOCRAT.

    POTTO did ring a faint bell and MADREPORE an even fainter one; they were my last two in

  6. Failed at the last, stumped by the NHO POTTO and MADREPORE. Also biffed a couple – SUNDRENCHED and TOURNAMENT – without understanding. Oh, and the IN THE HOLE part – ah, that kind of chip! No problem with EDINBURGH TATTOO, practically on my doorstep, or whisky, for that matter. An enjoyable exercise. Thanks, all.

  7. 10:23, but I had to look up 17dn before submitting. From a wordplay perspective MADRECORE and MADREPORE are equally valid and neither looked particularly more likely by the ‘does it look like a word’ test. If pushed I’d probably have picked the wrong one.

  8. 1a Pulitzer; I missed the pun and was foxed.
    14a POI the setter must have seen “The Wrong Trousers”, a Wallace and Gromit film.
    26a TOAD etc I missed the golf shot and was at a loss to explain it. DOH.
    Cheated for NHO 17d MADREPORE. I agree it could have been CORE, but having cheated I didn’t need to worry.

  9. Guy, why is it “ces chaussures fait paraître”and not “font”? Is that informal/colloquial ?

        1. Well, I’ve been reading a lot of Céline, who has his own way with the language, “purity” be damned, but I don’t think he’s been a corrupting influence on me.

  10. Ref 26, I thought a defining difference between the two classes of amphibians was that frogs were hoppers and toads were crawlers

  11. Late to this, as we are holidaying in the States, Georgia, so it’s now middle of the night in the UK. A thoroughly enjoyable crossword, with MADREPORE NHO and unaware of the constituents of French toast, so that caused some delay and LOI. Thanks for parsing TOURNAMENT, which I completely failed to work out, though the answer was obvious with the crossers.

  12. Got started by a look-up, and enjoyed it slowly sinking in after that. Look-up was PULITZER PRIZE, which I don’t think I d have ever gotten, and LOINI (not in) was MADREPORE (NHO).
    Usual Sunday treat, with EVE as the stand -out; but so many other delightful clues.

  13. Thanks Robert and guy
    A bit over an hour to get this one out yesterday and agree that it was a terrific puzzle. Did use a word finder a couple of times for the word that I didn’t know – MADREPORE and one that I should have – PULTIZER (loved the homophone for that one!). Others that I particularly enjoyed were EVE (for the excellent ‘second in the race’) and TOAD IN THE HOLE (for that ‘chip’ when it sunk in – literally and figuratively). Inexplicably put in HARBORAGE at 24a until the final check of the anagrist didn’t match, then had to check the resort town.
    Finished in the NW corner with PALATABLE, that EVE and THRASHED (new the dance, didn’t know the party definition of it) as the last one in.


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