The Christmas Turkey Report

I solved this about a week ago but left the report writing until today. Mainly because we’ve finalised puzzles up to 1st Jan to give ourselves an easy Christmas/New Year gap, but as it happens, it makes the blogging experience similar to the real thing – all the post-solving analysis was done this morning. And without reading any of the comments about the puzzle, or any explanations. Apologies for not writing more, but some real life calls – will only see any comments explaining where I went wrong tomorrow (23rd).

Solving time: not recorded, alas – 15A was the last in, and I fear I may have used aids. I’m also wondering whether my biffed final two downs have better answers.

Clues I liked most: A: 10, 11, 13, 19, 20, 22, 27, 29 D: 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 14, 16

1 YULETIDE – dilute* in Ye. Minor reality point on dilution of cocktails for me – being a mixture anyway.
5 BEDAUB – ED,AU in B,B. Not very keen on “reporter” rather than journalist” as Editor seems a different job.
10 GREETINGS – anag. “Hello” = a song sung by Adele rather than something made-up.
11 GECKO – e.g.<, C., KO= kick-off – credit for confusing use of possible indicator words, and the less common version of KO
12 KNEE – central letters – not a bad selection of words for the purpose, but a clue type I’m reluctant about, possibly from some shockers in the clue writing comp
13 OVERTHINK – OVER = “Balls'”, THIN=fine, K – Strictly surface story
15 TRIPARTITE – “PART 1” (ref Shak plays) in TRITE=tired. Memories of old-style literary Times xwd clues being too complex for the person now faking literary expertise on the TLS puzzles
17 MESA – E,S in MA. Mild frown here for “at” as the wordplay/def link
19 ISLE – hidden, in convincing text
20 BRIDGEHEAD – BRIDGE = fill the gap, HEAD = crown (as in a nursery rhyme I believe). Nice dental surface at the end, though less strongly so at the beginning
22 JERKWATER – Canadian for “one-horse”. JERK=Yank, WAT (Tyler), ER. Fairly convincing surface comment on Commonwealth/non-C N America
24 ELSE – S(a)LE,E – not sure what sort of jumble sales we’re talking about in the surface …
26 INFER(no) – intriguing words rather than a convincing story – which I possibly prefer more than I used to
27 LADYBIRDS – BIRD in SADLY*. Another with a variety of possible indicators not all indicating, and a decent story.
28 TIE rhyming with DIE, not a “Crossword solvers do it with …” kind of statement on the shirt
29 BORROWER, or “ower” in the second half.
1 YOGI – two definitions combined pleasingly
2 LEE ENFIELD RIFLE – (Robert E) LEE,(enfil(a)de, flier)* – not completely happy with “his” in the def, or who the “flier” is in the story
3 TO THE MAX – H=horse in TOTEM=American Idol, AX = “Indianan feller”. I’m wondering if there’s a cultural reference in the surface that has passed me by.
4 DINGO = (dog in)* – possibly not the first use of this idea but hard dto resist
6 EIGHT=crew,Y=unknown. Surface may be not a significant statement, but one I’m sure I understand
7 ARCHIMEDES SCREW – A=the inventor,S,CREW – possibly an unfortunate CREW in an answer next to a clue using it, but that sort of problem is more likely in “group” puzzles
8 BROOKLANDS – anag of (Bonk(er)s road L). The surface is one of those descriptions where you know what’s intended but it doesn’t quite feel right compared to “they smashed …”
9 ASSERTED – hidden. Can’t think of a real/known fictional (Pooh reference?) “Trespasser Teddy” so couldn’t really like it.
14 STRIP JOINT – (J, TITS OR NIP)* – entertainingly saucy
16 THROTTLE – TH(is)TLE with ROT replacing “is”. “Rubbish” as an adjective in the surface meaning.
18 DECEMBER (CrEaM,B)in DEER. Not as weird as some “recipe” clues, but stuffed with a liquid? Hmmm
21 QWERTY – as opposed to a Dvorak keyboard. Decent surface story but it seems like a very easy clue for those who know.
23 RODEO – Def (Cowboys showing off) understood but the wordplay puzzles me. Ready to feel embarrassed.
25 USER – Def (addict) understood but the wordplay puzzles me. Ready to feel embarrassed again.

Merry Christmas to all, and in the words of Young Mr Grace, “you’re all doing very well”.

59 comments on “The Christmas Turkey Report”

  1. Peter, I think you have to start with tag=username (not my clue, BTW).

    And 23dn references Rodeo Drive.

    Edited at 2016-12-22 12:22 pm (UTC)

  2. As someone with no vested interest, I’d vote for 21dn – I’m always a sucker for good surface readings, and too many of the other clues didn’t (as Peter might say) tell a coherent story.
  3. Thanks Sotira for the Turkey Trot and thanks, Peter for being the star blogger! I enjoyed TRIPARTITE but I see that PB was somewhat confused by TO THE MAX, as I still am. I’ll betray my lack of knowledge of keyboards by saying I had no idea Dvorak was a variation on the theme.
    I did this last Sunday after I had discovered that the Sunday cryptic was a Jumbo. I usually get round to the cryptic after dinner and I just didn’t feel like devoting what would have amounted to hours of toil & trouble on it.
  4. I’m the guilty party to this one. Rodeo Drive is a famous ‘luxury shopping destination’ in Beverly Hills according to Wiki. I knew of it as a 71 year old Lancastrian whose idea of luxury shopping is at the local garden centre, so I don’t think it can be that esoteric, but it’s true I did spend a couple of years chairing an LA company. My wife certainly knew it straightaway when I road-tested it on her. Take a tee shot (DRIVE) from it and you’re left with cowboys showing off at the RODEO.
      1. On reflection, LA might have been a better choice that Beverly Hills for this one, but I honestly thought Rodeo Drive was so well known that it hardly mattered.
        1. Yep, it’s often referenced in American popular culture. Not going to say any more now or I’ll end up admitting that I’ve seen Pretty Woman, possibly more than once.

          (Please don’t tell Ulaca).

        2. Not your fault, Sotira. I was in no doubt when I first wrote the clue that Beverly Hills was the right reference. It’s true that I know most roads in LA by their numbers, but there are a lot of them. And famous roads could then also have been for instance Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Strip.
        3. I DON’T think that LA would have been a better reference. Rodeo Drive runs north and south, and exists only in Beverly Hills. Anyway, it was easy to get and an excellent clue in my view. Thanks Bolton Wanderer!


        4. No, LA would NOT have been a better reference. Rodeo Drive runs North and South and does not touch LA. The clue was easy to get, so I am with Bolton Wanderer that the road is quite well-known.
  5. Took me a while and I had to use aids for QWERTY(I’m a retired computer engineer who’s never heard of a DVORAK keyboard!) and JERKWATER, but I still have no idea what’s going on with 28a! Oh and I had TO THE MAN at 3d. Thanks to all who contributed and to PB for the blog. Merry Christmas to all. Now I really must go and buy something for Christmas dinner.

    Edited at 2016-12-22 12:47 pm (UTC)

  6. Many thanks for the blog Peter much appreciated.The clue submitted for 8d was:Bonkers road?..Left without delay to smash speed records there!Obviously didn’t pass muster with the testers.I’ll leave the cultural references at 3d for the setter to explain!Ps you have typo at 28 dye.Have a great Christmas everyone.

    Edited at 2016-12-22 01:17 pm (UTC)

    1. I’m sure Verlaine, who has already claimed 3d elsewhere, will oblige by telling you more than you ever wanted to know about American Idol!
  7. I’ll claim 1d as mine own. Thought I’d go with something simple as quite a lot of tricky ones were coming in.
  8. I’ll own up to 5a, where my main concern was trying to get the solver to look at both ends of the clue (failure), so I wasa bit slap-dash on the reporter/journalist distinction. Not that keen on either, to be honest, but it was not a deliberate slight.

    Glad someone else had to resort to aids.

    I think Verlaine has been at the time-machine again…

  9. Ha ha, yes, 3dn’s surface is all about the 2009 season of American Idol, where (Indianan) Adam Lambert came second to Kris Allen, both performing (and then releasing as a single) “No Boundaries”. Obviously it was a bit of a long shot that anyone at all in this particular community would have any knowledge or recollection of any of this, but that’s my sense of humour! If only Kris Allen had been a horse. Or on horse.
  10. I”ve been too busy defending my honour on 23d to give my overall impression so far. Thank you Peter for nicely putting us in our place! I now know how difficult it is just to think of one clue. And a great thankyou to Sotira for brightening up this December. At least the days start getting longer from today. As a crossword, I actually found this on the easy side, with everything readily parsed, including TIE-DYE. My favourites were 26a INFER, 25d USER. and 1d YOGI. DNK JERKWATER but crossers made it clear once I realised what tiler we were talking about.
  11. I’ll own up to 10a. GREETINGS.
    My alternative was, ” Pleased to see you starting to grip steering wheels.”
    Great fun. Loved STRIP JOINT.
    Thanks to Sotira and PB for the blog.
  12. I’ll cop to 13A. I was either overthinking or underthinking, whichever it was I needed an awful lot of babysitting from Sotira until it came out more or less acceptably. Just a bit embarrassing as a TLS blogger was that TRIPARTITE gave me all kinds of trouble. I don’t suppose anyone this side of the pond would have any difficulty with RODEO Drive. I completely missed Verlaine’s tv reference. Some very nice ones indeed but I’m still sticking with my favourite of yore – Zabadak’s puff adder/chain smoker.

    Many many thanks to Sotira and Peter! And a Merry Christmas to all.

    Edited at 2016-12-22 04:19 pm (UTC)

  13. Thanks for the blog Pete and thanks again to the setters, test solvers and most of all the editor / tress. Some of PB’s comments show just how difficult the ed’s job can be.

    I appear to be more forgiving than PB when it comes to slight niggles if the result is a particularly pleasing clue: the three clues I’d ticked as being particularly good were, in clue order:

    1a – I liked the combination of dilute cocktail for anagram fodder and indicator as well as the way the insertion worked and it all hung together nicely in a smooth surface.

    13a – fun and topical

    26a – very clever I thought.

    Now that Verlaine has explained his clue more fully I’ll add that to my list. I already liked American Idol for totem but now I know he managed to squeeze in the song title along with the correct state (and the imaginary horse) it gets a retrospective tick.

    I had most trouble in the SW corner with the unknown Canadian thing and the not-terribly obvious tie-dye and I didn’t know that Dvorak was a type of keyboard. It’s just as well I already knew the answer to 14 down (well I did ask, right at the start of the process, if risqué clues were allowed) 🙂

  14. Really enjoyed tussling with this – no time recorded (time is a bit of a unquantifiable factor chez Hoskins), but it was done in a couple of sittings with plenty of smiles.

    Lots of nice clues, but I particularly liked the ideas behind 26a & 29a, the misdirection of 19a (for which my bad spelling enabled me to bif Iain), and the economy of 1d and 4d. As for 14d – well, I’ve never heard such naughtiness – Colonel K would be blowing a gasket at the very thought of it!

    Well done to all who made it possible, to Peter for the review and a very merry Xmas to all.

    Harry xxx

  15. Great fun all around, and many thanks to Sotira for marshalling us all in this wonderfully festive collective endeavour.

    Ones I had most trouble with: BROOKLANDS (u/k), JERKWATER (u/k), QWERTY (dnk Dvorak keyboard), BEDAUB, and TIE DYE (still not sure I get it…). Thought I’d understood how Verlaine’s worked, but now I see I had only understood a small percentage of his cleverness… (But I did get the RODEO Drive ref, and the USERname=tag bit!)

    Ticks by YOGI, GREETINGS, GECKO, OVERTHINK (loved the topical Strictly ref).

    Oh, and mine was DECEMBER (was thinking of whipped or maybe clotted cream for stuffing… ok, still maybe a bit meh). I wonder if he’d’ve like my other one better: “Creme de banane first drunk at this time of year”…?

    Happy Christmas to one and all! Ho ho ho…

  16. From best to fifth best.

    I. 8dn: Lots of misdirection on what letters go into the anagram. Not being a UK-dweller, I had never heard of the place.

    2. 5ac: Using “to the French” to indicate “au” was a nice touch.

    3. 14dn: Easy to get, but made me smile.

    4. 29ac: Again, an easy one that made me smile.

    5. 21dn: Easy to get with checkers in place, but possibly difficult for some.

    Worst clue: 26ac. I’ll let you guess why.

    Thanks again Sotira and company for making this possible.


  17. Since I was recruited to test solve for Sotira, I’ve seen it all before, but this gives me a chance to thank Sotira and Peter, and all the other single clue setters for the Christmas cheer. Especially Penfold, you elf, 14d made me laugh. Regards.
    1. I didn’t exactly lose sleep over the inclusion of 14d, but I did do a lot of “shall I, shan’t I?”, especially as Penfold had provided several good alternatives. In the end, though, it just felt strangely right. No reports of coronaries so far so I think we got away with it.
  18. Well, I’ll own up to 25d, which galspray explained in the first comment. My first choice clue, for another word, was (rightly) deemed too hard, particularly for nonUK solvers. I had difficulty, to the dnf point, with JERKWATER, and particularly QWERTY, never having heard of DVORAK in that context. Perhaps accidentally, and if not, brilliantly, I was convinced the answer was an anagram of ‘keyboard’ without ‘by’ and must be Dvorak’s first name.

    A most entertaining thing, and the blog does indeed show how hard the regular setters’ jobs are. Many thanks, particularly to sotira.

    1. Haha…. I was on exactly that wavelength when my son looked over my shoulder and explained the Dvorak=keyboard ref!
  19. This was an excellent endeavour and I’d be happy to help arrange another one at Easter or in the summer.

    My alternative was the somewhat risque “He’s touched short chap up, the bowman perhaps. (8)” (Also this meaning of the verb “touch” might be a bit obscure.)

  20. Hmm, hard bunch these crossword editors, eh?! It looks as if I enjoyed it more than Peter did, though it does clearly suffer from one or two flaws, inescapable probably with so many cooks..
    I confess to 4d. It is a very easy word to clue but hard to do anything witty with, never mind anything hard to solve. I thought the clue as published was the snappiest, but I also liked another effort .. wont say what, unless sotira says I may .. nearly as much.
    NB: a clue a bit crunchier next time please, Sotira?
      1. Ha, I hope you’re writing all this down. I think that’s the fifth time I’ve seen messages from you that include the words “Next time I will ….”
        Just glad there will clearly be one! I got a lot of fun from this crossword Sarah, two times over. Thank you
      2. Car park sex without horse sound, moving nothing to the rear, sends dog wild!?? I’ll get my coat
      1. Don’t think I need any incentives!Enjoyed our meet at the post comp watering hole.I’ll be there as a combatant next year.Have a very good Christmas with premier grand cru or two.
  21. I’ll claim this one.

    The clue as originally written, was ‘Trespasser Ted, trapped, swore’, with the Ted in question being the bear in the Mark Wahlberg film, Ted, who loosely trespassed in his owners life and was famously foul-mouthed.

    Just before submission, I realised that Trespasser Ted didn’t ‘trap’ asserted, and needed something to enclose the answer. It didn’t really occur to me until later that changing it to Teddy lost the reference to the film!

    Anyway, great work Sarah and thanks Pete for the blog to parse the ones I’d biffed.

  22. Very pleased to get into PB’s “like” list. He was underwhelmed with my effort last year. The alternatives were:

    Several score and no wicket for substantial start (6); and
    Hygienist is without sin but wretched and getting on a bit (6)

    Our illustrious editor opted for the “pithier” submission on the basis that she was short of pith.

    As a solver, I really enjoyed this. With PB, I was mystified by the USER clue — thanks to Galspray for illumination.

    Best to everyone for the festives.

  23. JERKWATER was my clue. I thought my overall idea was OK but found it hard (even with significant editorial hand-holding) to work into something elegant and I thought it came out a bit hard for such an obscure word. But I couldn’t think of anything else even halfway serviceable and the checkers were at least reasonably kind (I checked). Still, this setting game is hard.
    My print-out with all my ticked clues is at home but I remember liking 13ac, 26ac, 29ac, and of course the quite magnificent 14dn.
    No problem at all with RODEO Drive, mystified by the keyboard and my last in, BROOKLANDS.
    Thanks again to sotira, Peter, and all others involved. Great fun.
    I’m not sure I understand your point about cocktails Peter but if you think they’re necessarily dilute you obviously need to drink more Negronis and/or Martinis.

    Edited at 2016-12-22 11:18 pm (UTC)

  24. There is no way that I am sharing which clue I was responsible for. After all, how can one possibly go about clueing GECKO in any sensible . . . Oh b****r!

    Edited at 2016-12-22 11:24 pm (UTC)

  25. When I sent my earlier comment congratulating Sotira and the gang, I mentioned that there were 2 or 3 clues I was afraid I’d have to give up on, but fortunately I nailed them at last; but now I can’t remember which ones they were. I had two questions or cavils at the time: the Canada reference in JERKWATER, and the equation of totem with idol in 3d; totems are not idols. Anyway, it was great fun, and I hope, Sotira, you’ll have the energy to do this again next year. Happy New Year to all.
  26. Though there are 49 comments before mine, only six of them mentioned clues that they liked. I added them up, and here are the final standings. (Because this was done manually, there might be errors.)

    First: 14dn. Clearly this one stripped the competition bare with 4 out of 6 votes.

    Tied for Second: 13ac, 26ac, 29ac, with 3 out of 6 votes.

    Honourable Mention: Across: 1, 5, 10, 11, 19, Down: 1, 3, 4, 8, 21, with 1 vote out of 6.

    As the perpetrator of 26ac, I am glad that so many seemed to like the clue. I get the impression that almost everyone here is an old hand, while I started doing the puzzle about two years ago.



  27. 15a TRIPARTITE was mine. Not sure what to make of the fact that it was Peter’s LOI, and Olivia didn’t get it immediately.

    Never heard of BROOKLANDS but no problem with Rodeo Drive since I’ve walked along it. It is all very “if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it”.

  28. Great fun and thanks to all concerned especially Sotira and PB for the blog. ARCHIMEDES SCREW was my contribution.
  29. Should have seen Rodeo Drive – the (golf shots / roads) intersection can’t be very big. And tag=username is hard to argue with when you see it.

    I wouldn’t take ratings of single clues too seriously – some words are kinder than others to the clue writer, and in puzzles like this, difficulty will be influenced by crossing answers out of your control.

  30. My clue was 27a LADYBIRDS and very chuffed to get an honourable mention from our esteemed blogger. I had to
    use aids to complete this in about an hour: keyboards and jerk water beyond
    my skills. Great fun to be a part of. Many thanks, Sarah and Peter. And merry Christmas to all contributors!
  31. My clue was the mildly frowned at 17a – MESA. My original was “High? It’s plain mother consumed last of the schnapps”, but the definition part is a bit of a stretch, so it got combinmed with “Noel meals are served at High Table”. What fun. And great to see the who’s who of apsiring clue-writers. I can’t wait to give it another go. Many thanks Sarah and Peter and Merry Christmas to all.
  32. New to this malarkey…I do the QC daily with middling success so have some questions;
    1 was tresspasser a deliberate spelling? Threw me completely!
    2 would someone kindly spell out the tie dye reasoning as it eludes me!
    3 I guess this is a proper 15×15 puzzle (?) so how is it rated in terms of difficulty? I managed exactly 2/3rds but see I ought to got a half a dozen more than that!
    Thx for any help with this
    1. 1: I’m pretty sure tresspasser instead of trespasser was an unintentional accident.
      2: The “rhyme” point is that tie rhymes with dye. And tie-dye in its c. 1970 heyday was fairly often used on T shirts – probably because you could get plain white ones fairly easily. Apart from the rhyme not being a statement in words on a T-shirt, that’s all that’s going on.
      3: It’s a rather unusual 15×15 because there are about 30 different clue writers instead of one clue writer and possibly one crossword editor amending their work. My guess is that it was rather harder than an average broadsheet paper 15×15 for that reason.

      Edited at 2016-12-30 08:19 pm (UTC)

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