Sunday Times Cryptic No 5111 by David McLean — Baffle of the Bands

This was a rocking good time, posing no problems but prompting some thought, with the added… Spice of an apparent theme in the clueing. Lots of deceptive capitalization going on here.

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

 1 Where software or floppy can be loaded (3,5,3,4)
THE WORSE FOR WEAR    (Where software or)*   “Loaded” in the sense of “drunk” (one of the 1,001 idioms for that)   …And we have a Creative Anagrind Prize right out of the gate!
 9 More stout left for pick-up by pint-puller? (7)
10 Crime PI worked on for a scientist? (7)
EMPIRIC    (Crime PI)*   “A person who relies on empirical methods” (Collins) or “a person who follows an empirical method” (,  which a scientist may do, at least up to a point (the American English definition from Webster’s New World Dictionary at Collins online draws a distinction: “a person who relies solely on practical experience rather than on scientific principles”). A second definition is “a charlatan; quack,” which Collins tags as archaic and doesn’t. So there’s no question about the question mark. Chambers is clearest, with three definitions: (1) “A person who makes trials or experiments” (as a scientist might); (2) “Someone whose knowledge is obtained from experience only” (decidedly not a scientist); and (3) “A quack.”
11 Make old-fashioned dish and two egg starters (4)
DATE    First letters or “starters”
12 An arm and a leg, pelvis or body? (10)
MEMBERSHIP    MEMBERS, “An arm and a leg” + HIP, “pelvis”   The “body” of an organization or group
13 Home ground a short distance into Derby? (7)
HABITAT    H(A BIT)AT   …Since, like idioms for intoxication, the names of bands are gradually exhausting the resources of the dictionary, it is unclear if this is a coincidence, but there is, or was (their last single dropped in January 2023), a Britpop-influenced Portland, Oregon–based musical group called Derby.
15 In hearing, condemn EasyJet’s top Italian fare (7)
GNOCCHI    “knock E”   The airline actually stylizes its name as “easyJet.”   …From The Guardian:  “The British pop group Easy Life have been forced to change their name after easyGroup, the owner of the easyJet brand, filed a lawsuit claiming their name infringed on a trademark.” Incredible!
17 Around New Year, small boy’s covering for head (7)
STETSON    S(TET)(S)ON   TET is the Vietnamese New Year.
19 Record or song by Blue (3,4)
LAY DOWN    LAY, “song” + DOWN, “Blue”   …Wikipedia says the British boy band Blue, formed in 2000, played “a fan festival in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The appearance attracted criticism due to Qatar’s human right’s [sic] abuses and strict anti-LGBT laws.” (Sorry, just had to throw that in.)
20 It’s a farce travelling around a foreign region (4,6)
EAST AFRICA    (It’s a farce, a)*—or (It’s a farce)* + A, if you take “travelling around” to refer only to the words before it, with A coming after—it works either way.
22 Support member of nobility on radio (4)
PIER    “peer”
25 Serial rewritten by one for The National (7)
ISRAELI    (Serial)* + I, “one”   …The National is a rock band formed in 1999 in Brooklyn, NYC, and now based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
26 Dance record by a certain Stone (3-4)
ONE-STEP    ONE, “a certain” + ST(one) + EP, Extended Play “record”   …My favorite Stone has always been Keef (we share the same birthday). He’s not a bad writer, either.
27 Flighty type of big pale horse unseated one (5,5,5)
 1 Half-hearted fast about to be broken by papa (5)
TEPID    DI(P)ET<=“about”   In communications code, especially in radio, “papa” means P.
 2 Just be all over the shop with tequila (9)
EQUITABLE    (be, tequila)*
 3 It’s my fault husband has left rings (4)
 4 Gluttony bound to hinder fellow having sex (7)
SURFEIT    SUR(F)E + IT, “sex”   …This was my LOI, though I thought of this word earlier in the solve. I wasn’t aware that, besides meaning an excessive amount of something, it could be equivalent to “Gluttony”—but lo, the second definition in Collins, “overindulgence, esp in eating or drinking,” and as well overlaps that for “Gluttony,” “the act or practice of eating to excess,” though the latter is more specific, aside from figurative usages. It seems odd that the words are not given as synonyms by, though “glut” is found there as synonymous with SURFEIT as “excess.”
 5 Unkempt sort in XS jumper given sack (7)
FLEABAG    FLEA, “XS (extra small) jumper” + BAG, “sack”
 6 Type of company dealing with a conservative (9)
REPERTORY    RE, “dealing with” + PER, “a” + TORY, “conservative”
 7 Want to remove dead electrical connection (5)
 8 Republican lie missed by Democratic party (9)
RECEPTION    R(epublican) + dECEPTION
13 Hospital with new antigens for fast-tracking (9)
HASTENING    H(ospital) + (antigens)*
14 Will group put back unexciting books? (9)
TESTAMENT    SET<=“put back” + TAME, “unexciting” + NT, “books” (New Testament)
16 Hit scorer freshly-arranged for Sonic Youth? (9)
CHORISTER    (Hit scorer)*   …I love this clue, and that’s one of my favorite bands (not particularly known for vocal harmonies).
18 Not any affluent nurses head for Windy City (7)
NORWICH    NO + R(W)ICH   …Windy City (Band), based in Dallas, performs the music of (the band) Chicago.
19 Get jammy US extract (phosphorus-free) (4,3)
LUCK OUT    pLUCK OUT    The setter has indicated that this is an Americanism. Neither Collins nor tag it as such (oddly enough, they both offer the same sample sentence, “the US economy lucked out for most of the decade”), but Chambers does label the phrase as “N. American.” For sure, “Get jammy” is strictly a UK expression!
21 Wait on minister to deliver work for Deal (5)
SERVE    Quintuple definition!!!!!  “Deal” is a “strong match” for SERVE in the sense of “aid, help, supply” at and “To deal” is the 23rd definition for it in Chambers.   .…The Grateful Dead tribute band Deal is currently touring in Pennsylvania.
23 Mature beef no good with side of nuggets (5)
RIPEN    gRIPE + Nuggets
24 Soprano bursting into so-so Come Together (4)
MESH    ME(S)H   …The band whose song this is needs no introduction. There’s also an eponymous Beatles tribute band, based in Omaha, Nebraska.


29 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5111 by David McLean — Baffle of the Bands”

    1. Ha! Yeah, I’d never seen that. It’s a goofy move to blatantly imitate corporate branding. I was just checking if there was actually a band called EasyJet and the tidbit about the forced name change came up.

      1. I would have thought that SqueezyJet would have taken the free puff and kept their gobs shut; they just sound petty and mean by complaining.

  1. Well, you had fun with this one, eh!?

    SURFEITING: I think this quote captures “overindulgence”:

    If music be the food of love, play on,
    Give me excess of it that, surfeiting,
    The appetite may sicken and so die.

  2. 32:48
    Time-consuming and not particularly enjoyable; the theme was wasted on me, as I’ve never heard of the bands.

        1. I don’t even know what 24d references, let alone Sonic Youth….
          Having looked it up I am amazed Come Together was the first track on Abbey Rd, which I did think I could remember, but can’t. I am also amazed to find C.T. in my cheating machine, no idea when I added that.
          Hi SBeginner, below, I am NOT a cool dude. I am glad that you are happy to be one.

    1. I’ve also never heard of any of the bands and didn’t even know that’s what they were until coming here. There was enough I did know to get me through it in 40 minutes without resorting to aids but I didn’t find it at all satisfying. I realised there was stuff I could have looked up afterwards to try to understand all the clues but couldn’t be bothered.

  3. Thanks Guy – found this relatively simple until I got stuck on the anagram at 1ac and surfeit…weird seeing that word out of context (i.e. not referring to lampreys!). I also didn’t know any of the bands, though my wife has bought us tickets to see the National in a few weeks.

  4. I thought that THE WORSE FOR WEAR was excellent. I would never have noticed the theme – with David McLean it is usually overuse of drugs (in the clues, I mean).

  5. I have heard of The Stones, Blue and The National, though couldn’t have told you anything about the latter two, but the theme was largely wasted on me. However, all done in two sessions on the Sunday, with LOsI being 1a and 4d. As I missed the anagrind and was looking for a phrase meaning ‘rich’, it took Mr Ego’s suggestion of an anagram to put me straight, after which SURFEIT was obvious. Thanks David and to Guy for filling in the essential missing subtleties!

  6. All done, no time recorded, no odd notes in the margins to indicate problems or queries. Seems it was a good week, though unremarkable. Of course, being a cool dude I got all the band references….Thanks, all.

  7. 27 minutes. I didn’t know EMPIRIC as a noun – I would have said “empiricist” – and didn’t think too much (ie I was lazy) about SURFEIT which fitted the wordplay and looked good enough for ‘Gluttony’.

    I liked the anatomy of MEMBERSHIP and the quintuple def for SERVE. Multiple definition clues seem to be one of our setter’s party tricks; he did a nonuple def for SEE in ST 5012 a couple of years ago and an octuple def for CRACK in ST 4939 (also blogged by Guy) three years ago.

    Thanks to Guy (well done for spotting the theme – no hope for me) and David

  8. I whizzed (by my standards) through this one in 23 minutes. I missed the theme and some of the cleverness as well, so thanks Guy!

  9. Surprised to find a near repeat of a clue from last week. I got confused and thought I had recycled the wrong paper so went “dumpster diving” only to find that I hadn’t binned the wrong one, I had correctly binned last Saturday’s (11th) which had no relevance at all.
    I don’t think this gives anything away; if you got it last week it will be a write in, if you’ve read the blog you know what it was.

  10. I missed the theme entirely.
    In 19dn ‘US’ is a reference to the answer, which is an American expression. Weirdly Collins doesn’t say so but Chambers and ODE do.

    1. That!s the way I had it at first, but changed my mind. The distinction of British and US usage of “pluck” has firm dictionary support, which the notion that Brits don’t say LUCK OUT does not seem to have.

      1. I don’t know where you get that from but I can assure you that ‘pluck out’ is perfectly common in British English!
        I don’t need a dictionary to tell me that LUCK OUT is American but it’s marked as such in Chambers and ODE. The OED says ‘originally US’.

        1. I “get that from” Collins and entries for “pluck” and for LUCK OUT, which I took as possibly reflecting current usage more than the “N. American” tag in Chambers , which I also saw, but which is not one of the standard sources for the ST. I don’t have the ODE, but “originally US” indicates that current usage is not so restricted.

          This was, however, an eleventh-hour second-guess edit, prompted perhaps by the perceived ugliness of having “US” as part of the underlined definition. All week long, that note had read:
          « LUCK OUT , which the setter has taken to be an Americanism. Neither Collins nor tag it as such (oddly enough, they both offer the same sample sentence, “the US economy lucked out for most of the decade”), but Chambers does label the phrase as “N. American.” For sure, “Get jammy” is strictly a UK expression! »

          But then I wondered about “pluck out,” and found that in Collins and, “pluck” is “to pull off or OUT…” only in American (the third Collins definition comes closest to “out,” without using that word, but is marked as archaic). Perhaps LUCK OUT originated in North America because “pluck out” was more common there…? The definition in the first American dictionary cited by Collins, below that, is more apt for the expression: “to pull off or out; pick.”

          Anyway, such was my (over?)thinking.

          1. The expression ‘pluck out’ isn’t specifically defined in any of the usual dictionaries. Trust me it is absolutely commonplace in British English!

            1. And here are some random citations from the Times of London for LUCK OUT:

              Nov 14, 2012 — But while some, like Boyd herself, luck out and continue to be happy in their relationships, others do not.

              Dec 1, 2019 — Even if I do luck out and find a film I fancy, I’m then reliant on the broadband prowess of Virgin Media. As soon as MGM’s lion has finished …

              Sep 5, 2019 — At lunch I luck out at the deli, being given for free four large pies which had reached their sell-by date. Down in one sitting! Ice-cream …

              Aug 18, 2012 — “I feel: ‘Boy did I luck out!’” Seriously? “Yes,” he says, as openly and as plainly as he’s yet been today. “I’ve had the most amazing time …

              Sep 4, 2021 — And maybe he’ll luck out there. But if that fails, he can’t bid again for six months. And, under the rules, he can’t return for a year at …


              I can easily restore my first reading, for the record, but I honestly find neither satisfactory. “US” here merely seems confusing. “Get jammy” is clearly not American, but that shouldn’t have to be indicated in a British crossword, nor does it seem necessary to imply that LUCK OUT (any more than “pluck out”) is exclusively a US usage, when that does not seem any longer to be the case (though you think of it as an “Americanism”—noted).

  11. Thanks for highlighting the theme. I’d not heard of “The National”, so completely missed that one – but can see from looking online that they’re obviously a significant band.

  12. DNF

    Late entry and defeated by SURFEIT – just couldn’t see it

    Like Sawbill thought 1a was superb and worth the entry fee

  13. Thanks David and guy
    Was able to complete this on a flight back from Sunshine Coast (24 degrees) to Melbourne (14 degrees) in just under the hour without aids. Noticed a lot of capitalisation but didn’t twig (because wouldn’t have known any of them anyway) to the band theme in the clues.
    Finished up the top with FLEA BAG (took longer than it should have to make sense of the XS), REPERTORY and that THE WORSE FOR WEAR (again taking longer than necessary to twig that ‘floppy’ pointed to an anagram).

  14. Bit of work involved: no idea about a theme though. 1a held me up for a long time -until I looked it up! Still didn’t get the “loaded” reference. FOI OOPS, LOI RECEPTION, COD HABITAT.


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