TLS Crossword 1138 by Myrtilus – August 12, 2016

I’ve had some difficulty with Myrtilus’s excellent creations but solved this one smoothly enough on the Hudson Line train within the hour between Yonkers and New Hamburg.  Parsing was quite another matter thanks to some specifically UK literary/popular/political references – two of which I didn’t know and one that was lodged so far back in my brain it needed carbon dating. The clue that brought down some of the doughtiest solvers (4a) was the deftest of traps – and I would certainly have fallen into it had I not been blogging and minding my step.  Definitions (where appropriate) in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.

Couple of footnotes.  Out of an excess of zeal, or something, I managed to post this a week too early and then left for a long and busy (and offline) weekend oblivious of my error.  The powers that be (a) deleted it promptly (thank you PB) and (b) were merciful, but it was still quite mortifiying to discover on Monday…  I have included the substance of Zabadak’s helpful comment on 27a, posted before the blog was removed.  I don’t imagine anyone was wondering but the self-inflicted ill fortune did not pursue me to the annual Dutchess County Fair last weekend where we took home 4 ribbons (yay).  It’s the long Labor Day weekend in these parts but I will try to get to the library on Saturday to borrow their internet connection just in case I need to follow up.

1.  An inspector in a hurry, leaving the city (6)
GENTLY.  UR=ancient city dropped from [ur]GENTLY=in a hurry.  This exposed a lacuna in my mystery-reading and tv-watching habits – I’d never heard of him.  He featured in a series of novels by Alan Hunter from the 1950s and 60s which were adapted for television in the 2000s.
4.  A poet’s not waving…  United being relegated (8)
BROWNING.  It looks as if the heavyweights had DROWNING but they “were much further out than” they thought.  Indeed the reference is to Stevie Smith’s poem but the clue doesn’t stop there.  UTD=united is removed (relegated) from the line “Not waving B[ut d]ROWNING, and there you have Robert or Elizabeth.  Very sneaky.
9.  Victorian sage sausages may have this (6)
RUSKIN.  John – art and architecture critic.  RUSK is a particular kind of dried bread or biscuit used in the making of sausages as a filling and moisture-retaining factor.  I always thought they just used breadcrumbs, and that a rusk was something you gave a teething toddler.
10.  Outdated order, without purpose, being overturned (8)
OBSOLETE.  OBE=order, surrounding (without) TELOS=purpose backwards (overturned).  A very TLS word for purpose.
12.  Hebrew artist among one’s top performers (9)
ISRAELITE.  RA=artist contained in (among) IS=one’s and ELITE=top performers. 
13.  He’s informed he’s won the Nobel prize (5)
GRASS.  Double definition.  1999 laureate author Gunther.  Also snitch.
14.  Stoat’s titbit picked up in the road (6,6)
ERMINE STREET.  ERMINES=stoat’s.  TREET=homophone (picked up) for treat=titbit.  Roman road that ran between London and York.  The one I know best is the Fosse Way (Exeter to Lincoln) which can still be seen (and driven on) clearly in parts of the Cotswolds.  When I was a child it always fascinated me because it really was dead straight.
18.  A genius with a lifted Foot, perhaps falls over (12)
MICHELANGELO.  This was the one that gave me parsing fits.  Take the former Labour leader Michael Foot and remove the A (lifted) from his name.  Add ANGEL=falls (spectacular cataract in Venezuela) and O=over.  It was only after a long pause that I remembered having heard (decades ago) my late father fulminating about Mr. Foot.  Obviously the capital F was there for a reason but I spent a long time wondering if the reference had something to do with the left foot of the famous scuplture of David being slightly raised.  Or did it refer to damage to the plinth by some lunatic in the 90s….. Never mind.
21.  Divine Englsih novelist (5)
READE.  READ=divine.  E=English.  Charles.  19th Century author, not read so much now.
22.  One revolting scowl brought about death (9)
GLENDOWER.  GLOWER=scowl surrounding (brought about) END=death.  Owen.  14th to 15th Century Welsh rebel.  Now best known from Shakespeare’s Henry IV in which he claims, to a sceptical Harry Hotspur, to be able to conjure spirits from the vasty deep. 
24.  A novel a day is written about what?  Love!  (3,5)
THE HOURS.  THURS=a day, surrounding (written about) EH=what and O=love.  Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Michael Cunningham (adapted for an Oscar-winning movie) taking the life, work and death of Virginia Woolf as its inspiration.
25.  A sleuth returning to Rio packs pens (6)
POIROT.  Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective Hercule.  Contained in (pens) TO RIO P[acks] backwards (returning).
26.  Watts’s novel angle on traitors from the East (8)
STARFISH.  STAR=rats (traitors) backwards (from the East).  With FISH=angle.  Sci-fi novel by Canadian author Peter Watts.
27.  Peter’s record covered by Dave’s singing partner (6)
CEPHAS.  Another name for the apostle Peter (or Simon Peter) from the New Testament.  EP=record contained in (covered by) CHAS, as in Chas and Dave.  “Rockney” duo from the 70s and 80s.  Sorry to say I’d never heard of them.  Zabadak (our house scholar on these matters) kindly obliged with the following explanation of Cephas/Peter:

    • The Aramaic (rather than Greek) Cephas never really caught on in western Christian circles.  Only in John’s gospel is it given in Simon’s renaming sequence, the other three giving just the “Peter” version.  Both mean “Rock”.  Paul almost always uses Cephas, perhaps because of a need to identify the Apostle as Jewish in their occasional spats about whether Gentile Christians needed circumcision.  Perhaps it’s just as well it didn’t take.  St. Cephas, Rome?  Plus we’d have had constant friction over whether it’s “Seefass” or “Keefass” – the latter definitely being more correct but never used at the lectern.


1. Author Meg‘s fish restaurant (8) 
GARDINER.  Edgar Award-winning American writer.  GAR=fish.  DINER=restaurant.
2.  This boatswain’s in rooms, not at sea (8)
NOSTROMO.  Anagram (at sea) of ROOMS NOT.  Title character in Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo:  A Tale of the Seaboard.  We’ve had several helpings of Conrad in the puzzles this year.  Nostromo made an appearance in Number 1125 by Praxiteles (which I also blogged so he was fresh in my mind).  He is an Italian, Giovanni Battista Fidanza, Capataz de Cargadores.
3.  Where the Borghese vase is hollow, insert a single flower (5)
LOIRE.  Flower as in river, not bloom.  The vase is an immense ancient Greek krater about as tall as me and its home is now the Louvre Museum in Paris.  If you remove the UV from the centre of LO[uv] RE and replace with an I=single you get the French river.

5.  Terrible blog about a French writer (5-7)
ROBBE-GRILLET.  Anagram (about) of TERRIBLE BLOG.  Neat one.  Breton-born Alain, film-maker and master of the nouvelle roman.
6.  Haringey district club supported by “doting” author (4,5)
WOOD GREEN.  Part of North London in the borough of Haringey.  WOOD=club.  GREEN=Henry, British author of “Doting”.
7.  Hickey joked about this diamond geezer (6)
ICEMAN.  The reference is to the travelling hardware salesman Theodore Hickman (Hickey), a character in Eugene O’Neill’s play The Iceman Cometh.  He has murdered his wife, supposedly after finding her in a compromising situation with the iceman (diamond geezer), but in fact for other reasons.  In the days before refrigerators in the US the iceman would have a regular route (like the milkman) to deliver blocks of ice for use in the “icebox” for storage of perishable food.  Many older Americans still call the fridge the icebox – my late mother-in-law did.
8.  One like Ponyboy:  short and fat (6)
GREASE.  This seems to have caught a few people out too.  In the 60s novel The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, Ponyboy Curtis (the narrator) was one of a gang known as the Greasers.  Their antagonists were the Socs.  Lop the R off the end of GREASE[r] and you have fat.
11.  An outing for Alex Cross, say, wearing loose silk shirts (4,3,5)
KISS THE GIRLS.  90s novel by American author James Patterson.  Cross is his protagonist.  EG=say, contained in (wearing) anagram (loose) of SILK SHIRTS.
15.  One gets sniffy about bad comedy (6,3)
NOISES OFF.  1980s farce by Michael Frayn.  NOSES=gets sniffy, surrounding (about) I=one, with OFF=bad.
16.  A sculptor‘s collection with a hidden value (8)
HEPWORTH.  Barbara, 20th Century Modernist sculptor.  HEP=heap, collection with the A hidden.  WORTH=value.
17.  Cold rebukes follow:  hence one making an apology (8)
SOCRATES.  From the dialogue by Plato presenting Socrates’s defence at his trial.  SO=hence.  C=cold.  RATES=rebukes.
19.  Noble and Roman, not sweet and American (6)
BRUTUS.  BRUT=dry, not sweet.  US=American.  The “noblest Roman of them all” per Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
20.  A virtuous Girl Guide picked up beer on the way back (6)
PAMELA.  MAP=guide and ALE=beer backwards.  From the 18th Century novel (in the form of letters) by Samuel Richardson.  The subtitle is Virtue Rewarded.  I read it, once.
23.  Old parts performed for a clan (5)
DOONE.  O=old contained in (parts) DONE=performed.  The clan are the outlaw Doones of Exmoor in Lorna Doone by R.D Blackmore – 19th Century novel set in the 17th Century.  Another one I’ve read once.

5 comments on “TLS Crossword 1138 by Myrtilus – August 12, 2016”

  1. If I had realised that 4ac was the brilliant clue it turned out to be, I might have got it right. Instead, I felt smug about knowing that it was Sylvia Plath (wrong about that too!) and decided the rest of the clue was irrelevant.
    I did like the clue for RUSKIN.
    Fine blog, Olivia, which I had the pleasure of reading twice!
  2. For me, one of those occasions when it’s a pleasure to be outfoxed. I knew DROWNING didn’t really work for 4ac but I never even came close to justifying BROWNING. I’m glad I didn’t spend too much longer on it — the outcome would not have changed. An astonishing feat of ingenuity by Myrtilus..

    The other clue that stays in my mind is 5d, a lovely and somehow rather appropriate surface. Mention of Robbe-Grillet’s unfailingly catapults me back to the shocking Chapter 13 of John Fowles’ French Lieutenant’s Woman.

    I am writing in … a convention universally accepted at the time of my story: that the novelist stands next to God. He may not know all, yet he tries to pretend that he does. But I live in the age of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Roland Barthes; if this is a novel, it cannot be a novel in the modern sense of the word.

    I’m one of the lucky ones who came to that chapter entirely unawares and was duly knocked flat by it. And it sent me off on a journey into European writing that is still going on.

    Higher than usual incidence of known knowns for me in this one. I’ve watched an occasional George Gently episode. Rather well done though relentlessly gloomy fare.

    Thanks, Olivia. And thanks Z8 for yet another entertaining and informative discourse on Judeo-Christian evolution. You really should write a book, you know.

    Edited at 2016-09-02 10:20 am (UTC)

  3. I was another one who had DROWNING, but annoyingly I saw how it should have worked about a second after submitting. Hate it when that happens…
  4. Ran out of time for this and never got close to finishing it.. the trouble with having eclectic literary taste is that sometimes it just isn’t enough! I was one of the unlucky ones who ploughed through a couple of Fowles books (FLW & the Magus) wondering what all the fuss was about.. no problem with Michelangelo though, even though socialism didn’t take with me either

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