TLS 1129 by Praxiteles – June 10, 2016

A few days before this puzzle was posted Peter Biddlecombe revealed the identities of the 4 setters here.  Praxiteles is D. G. Tallis who sets for the Telegraph, the Times (Listener), the Church Times and the Oxford times.

This was a puzzle with some generous clueing by the setter which may have lulled some of us (it certainly did me) into thinking we were going to post some fast times, but – not so fast…  The devil was in the details.  Still, Jason James managed it in a smoking 10 minutes! The apocalyptic theme was helpful.  The grid had an interesting combination of 3-letter clues and two related 15-letter ones.  For some reason this blog took me longer to put together than any of the others I’ve done, although the puzzle certainly wasn’t the most difficult.

As is my wont at present I printed this and took it with me to do at leisure over the weekend.  It was done more or less in one sitting and I’m pretty sure I clocked in under the hour, total.  Definitions (where appropriate) in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.  As a footnote – I’ll be away over the long holiday weekend but will look in on the Rhinebeck town library on Saturday to use their internet connection in case I need to follow up on anything, here and elsewhere.

1. Lamb opens these Kipling poems about start of Lammas (5,5)
SEVEN SEALS.  The first clue of the theme, from the Book of Revelations, in which the Lamb opens the sealed scrolls triggering the Apocalypse.  Zabadak is the biblical scholar here so I’ll defer to him for any further elucidation.  The Kipling poems are the Seven Seas, here containing the L (start) of Lammas.  An apt clue from the Church Times setter.
8.  One of nine rings for mortals endlessly involved with just one (6)
TAILOR.  Anagram of [M]ORTAL[S] (endlessly)  and I=just one.   I liked this one very much.  So which ennead was it?  Not Tolkien’s though the clue suggests it, not the muses, but Dorothy Sayers’s The Nine Tailors.  Very good Lord Peter Wimsey story with an impressive mastery of campanology by Sayers.  Tailor Paul is the name of the most venerable of the peal of bells that features in the tale (spoiler alert, they kill the villain).  It is inscribed with the legend: “NINE+TAYLORS+MAKE+A+MANNE+IN+CHRIST+IS+DETH+ATT+END+IN+ADAM+YAT+BEGANNE+ 1614″
On the death of a man in the parish, Tailor Paul would be tolled nine times plus the age of the deceased.  On the death of a woman, six times (no comment)  plus her age.  I was a London child and never knew my Grandsire Triples from my Kent Treble Bobs, but I do remember staying at my grandparents’ house in Rutland and having to go to bed far too early (“in summer quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day”) and listening to the ringers practising on a Saturday evening.  Much more interesting than the Continental and US programmed carillons.  Carry on change-ringing, please.

9 & 24.  Riders to end all races (3,4,8,2,3,10)
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE.  Double definition and the theme of the puzzle.  From the Book of Revelation.  With a long clue like this, if you can quickly pick up the frequency from the arrangement of the word lengths, this is a gift from the setter.  And with a 30-character double clue you get the 2 long struts here which open up the whole grid.  Cross-training with the Guardian puzzles also helps because they often contain these kinds of clues.  The Times, not so much.  There are opinions about this but I’m perfectly ok with the device. 
10.  “Yes, sir – fourth spell of penal.  You’d think an – like him would have more sense by now.” (John Galsworthy)  (3,3)
OLD LAG.  This refers to a minor character called Moaney (not Moaning Myrtle this time) from the 1910 play Justice, which promoted prison and sentencing reform.
11.  A tale of the seaboard featuring Italian bosun (8)
NOSTROMO.  We seem to have been getting quite a bit of Joseph Conrad lately and this is one of his from 1904.  The Italian bosun (title character) is Giovanni Battista Fidanza, a/k/a the Capataz de Cargadores – which sounds much more exciting than bosun.
13.  Put down Hergesheimer’s romance with 4 (3)
LAY.  The reference is to The Lay Anthony.  A Romance, by Joseph Hergesheimer, now obscure-ish early 20th century American writer.  Internal reference (another Guardian device) to the answer to 4d.  Not a difficult guess.
14.  Preventing which Joseph achieved brief renown in Egypt at first (6)
FAMINE. FAM=fam[e]=brief renown.  IN.  E[gypt] at first.  In Genesis, Joseph (of modern Dreamcoat fame) successfully advises Pharaoh on the interpretation of dreams and the surviving of famine.  This is also linked to the apocalyptic theme, famine being one of the scourges unleashed.  Good clue.
17.  With which to start laughing in Wodehouse? (3,3)
GAS TAP.  The reference is to Laughing Gas.  Not one of the Wooster novels, set in 1930s Hollywood.
20. Where minstrel boy went, unprepared to return (3)
WAR.  RAW=unrepared backwards (to return).  Thomas Moore – late 18th-early 19th century Irish poet.  Opening lines – “The minstrel boy to the war is gone”.  We all know the tune to which the verse is set without perhaps knowing its origins.  It prevails in the NE US (along with Danny Boy – the Londonderry Air) at police and firefighter funerals.  In the theme, this is another of the ills let loose by the horsemen.
21.  “Mage” is an alternative to Jonson’s “Alchemist”, like marchesite or tutie (8)
MAGNESIA.  Anagram (alternative) of MAGE IS AN.  This comes from a line in Ben Jonson’s comic play – ” Your oil of height, your tree of life, your blood, Your marchesite, your tutie, your magnesia, Your toad, your crow, your dragon, and your panther…”  Marchesite (marcasite) is a semi-precious stone.  I’m guessing but I think “tutie” may be what the OED calls “tutty” or zinc oxide, and “magnesia” seems to be magnesium oxide, the mineral (but presumably not as we all best know it now in the form of the milk of…).  I’ve no idea what the meanings or properties of these various items (and others in Jonson’s list) purport to be in the alchemical lexicon.  The play satirises, among other things, get-rich-quick scheming, fake science (alchemy and all its gibberish and general snake-oil), various dupes and double-dealing etc.
23. Acting most like Jerome, for fear that I’d come first (6)
IDLEST.  LEST=for fear that with ID coming first.  Reference to Jerome K. Jerome’s 1889 comic novel Three Men In A Boat which chronicles the adventures of three friends messing about in a boat on the Thames.
25.  Fictional land, reflecting one in Kurosawa film (6)
NARNIA.  The land created by C. S. Lewis.  RAN=classic1985 Japanese movie directed by Akira Kurosawa.  A=one.  IN.  All backwards (reflecting).
26. Plague involved in “Celestine Prophecy” initially (10)
PESTILENCE.  Another in the apocalyptic theme.  Anagram (involved) of CELESTINE and P[rophecy], initially.

1.  Closes 17A, say and shouts out very loudlly (5,3)
SHUTS OFF.  Anagram of SHOUTS with FF=very loudly.  Yes, well, you might just want to do that with a gas tap.  Another self-referential one but you don’t really need 17a to solve it.
2.  Too too much in convoluted dud movie – not one to be seen (8)
VIDENDUM.  This was the one that gave me a headache.  Anagram (convoluted) of DUD MOVIE NOT, removing TOO (one TOO too much).  I had to get a cold brewski and go and sit on the porch (in US-speak, veranda or loggia to you) to watch the hummingbirds before I got this straight in my head.  If I knew how to put the next sentence in very small letters I would because it’s embarrassing although it does work (defensively). What I actually put in originally was “videodum” , thinking this might be UK-speak for that truly awful show your child keeps wanting to watch and you DO NOT because it’s just TOO MUCH.  I’m decades beyond A level Latin but I think this is a gerund (noun made from verb) meaning one-to-be-seen. 
3.  Strive like little Malcolm (8)
STRUGGLE.  1960s play by David Halliwell – Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against The Eunuchs, made into a 1974 movie.
4.  Hope like Burgess? (8)
ANTHONY.  Double definition.  Anthony Hope – author of the Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau (the Ruritanian genre), and Anthony Burgess – author of A Clockwork Orange.  We had the latter just the other day.
5.  Jameson’s may have ruined “The Lovely Ship” (6)
STORMS.  1927 novel by Storm Jameson.  Also I think part of the theme, but Z would know for sure.
6. Are they suitable to encompass new appreciation of music by soprano? (4,4)
FINE ARTS.  FIT=suitable, containing (encompassing) N=new EAR=appreciation of music.  With S=soprano.
7.  Sort of method actor (6)
BRANDO.  Marlon.  Finest performances in On The Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I take it that sort=BRAND O, although the O dangles a bit, but no matter. [On edit, after not looking at this for over a week I think it’s just that the F in OF is elided to O’, as in John o’ Groats.]  “Method” acting was a 20th century dramatic technique intended to convey real emotions by having the actor “inhabit” the part.  The theory was originated by Constantin Stanislavsky and taught by Lee Strasberg.  James Dean was another exemplar.
12.  Greek ready to be found in “Remnants” (3)
MNA.  Contained (found in ) [re]MNA[nts].  This is a reference to ancient Greek currency.  What very little I remember of Greek O level stuff was that a “mina” was a multiple of a drachma so this wasn’t too much of a stretch.
15.  Literary anecdotes doing the rounds; no change there then? (3)
ANA.  A palindrome, so doing the rounds it reads the same backwards and forwards.
16. Like the last part of “The Rainbow” – that’s about one that’s poor (8)
IANTHINE.  AN=one.  THIN=poor.  Contained in IE=that’s.  Another word (derived from Latin) for violet-coloured – violet being the the colour at the end of the visible spectrum, before you get to the pot of gold.
17.  Stern retailer – he’ll have cheered him up (8)
GRIMALDI.  GRIM=stern. ALDI=retailer.  I must lead a sheltered life – I’d never heard of Aldi the giant discount chain, but the answer was clear.  Joseph Grimaldi (apparently nothing to do with the princely Monagesque family) was a Regency era comic actor and clown, of Italian extraction.  Immensely popular and famous in his day.  Put me down as one who finds clowns scary and anything but cheering.  My son-in-law the same – when a child he had a hospital visit from a clown which gave him enduring nightmares.
18.  Shine at start of play, performing?  I might (8)
THESPIAN.  Anagram (performing) of SHINE AT and P (start of play).
19.  Was she worthy of Pearl Curran? (8)
PATIENCE.  Patience Worth was a “spirit” who manifested herself to the famous early 20th century American medium Curran.  So famous I’d never heard of either but the paranormal isn’t my bag. The clue could be done without Google, the blog could not.
20.  Was about to disapprove of medium used by “The Waggoner” (7)
WABOOMS.  BOO=disapprove of.  M=medium.  Contained in (about) WAS.  Didn’t know this either but the setter gave us the needful.  Trees native to South Africa, the wood of which was used by the Boers for their wagon wheels.
21.  Jane Smiley novel in German, sounding bovine (6)
MOOING.  MOO (a satirical novel by the American author Smiley) with IN G=German.
22.  “Now you have no – on your head” (Twelfth Night) (3-3)
SEA-CAP.  For obvious reasons I know this play quite well.  Act III Scene IV.  Antonio, friend of Sebastian, had come to seek him but happened upon Viola, disguised as a young man and looking just like her identical twin brother Seb.  She had got herself in trouble by attracting the unwelcome attentions of the tiresome Olivia and so getting up the nose of Olivia’s suitor (drinking buddy of Olivia’s uncle Sir Toby Belch) Sir Andrew Aguecheek.  A duel is about to ensue, much dreaded by Viola, but it’s interrupted by officers who arrest Antonio with these words.  Antonio, having mistaken Viola for her brother etc. etc. etc.

5 comments on “TLS 1129 by Praxiteles – June 10, 2016”

  1. I thought this was a fine piece of work, and on the whole I applaud themed puzzles, even ones with Grauniadesque multi-light answers and cross references. I spent quite a while trying to find the fourth horseman, Death ( the only one named in the Apocalypse) until I realised there were no five letter clues.
    And a bravo for a comprehensive analysis: I hope you found pleasure in digging everything out: I had not seen the full depth of the Jonson’s Alchemist clue, as the anagram gave little trouble.
    My downfall was VIDENDUM, which in the course of a hurried refill (I hate it when you press the wrong button and erase everything) I rendered as VIVENDUM.
    Storms doesn’t turn up in John’s Apocalypse as a particular issue, but you may consider that stars falling to earth like figs sounds pretty rough, and might engender comment in the weather forecast. The key to understanding Revelation (should you want to) is that it was written for a particular, quite small group of churches under severe persecution, and they were expected to understand even the weird stuff and (primarily) draw comfort from it. That others have drawn all kinds of anachronistic conclusions from it down the years (Brexit is a favourite in some quarters even now!) shows a curious disregard for even basic levels of scholarship. I keep waiting (an innocent hobby of mine) for any one of them to get a Revelation based prediction right. The score so far makes even England’s shambolic Euro footie exit look like a triumph: Attempts on goal several thousand, On target nil, Goals nil.
    1. Thanks for the Revelation stuff Z. The little I know is very superficial. Speaking of digging, my back is still complaining so I’m now returning to supervise husband’s garden work.

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