TLS Crossword 1164 by Talos — February 24, 2017

The Crossword Club solvers, included your blogger, posted some fast times with this puzzle (Dave Howell did it in 8.6 and I managed 20.45) so the references or the construction of the clues must have been unusually accessible, with the exception of 3D which caused some head-scratching.  Some very naughty boys and a couple of bunnies plus some very neat misdirection gave this quite a flavour and it could be solved (but not blogged – at least not by me) without recourse to Google.  One DNK and one unknown quotation but both easy to guess.  Definitions in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.


1.  Starting point for translating Welsh novel (13)
TRAINSPOTTING.  The 1993 novel by Irvine Welsh (who is Scottish) was adapted into a 1996 film that was a popular and critical hit.  I haven’t read the book because I’m not keen on reading a lot of dialect whether it’s by Walter Scott or Welsh, and I didn’t see the movie either because I have a hair-trigger gag reflex….  Quite a few bad boys in this.  P.S.  Just read in the NY Times that a sequel is about to be released.
9.  Copperfield’s boss is mostly exhausted and down (7)
SPENLOW.  He is the lawyer who is David’s employer and the father of Dora, his first wife.  SPEN[t]=mostly exhausted.  LOW=down.
10.  Soldiers mass in support for Urquhart’s position? (7)
PREMIER.  R[oyal] E[ngineers]=soldiers with M=mass contained in PIER=suppoer.  Francis Urquhart, played by Ian Richardson, is the scheming PM in the 1990s tv series House Of Cards.
11.  Moral story that doesn’t start well enough? (4)
ABLE.  Remove the F from the beginning of FABLE=moral story (doesn’t start).
12.  Bust weight enthrals The Queen’s biographer (amongst other things) (10)

CHESTERTON.  G.K.  CHEST=bust and TON=weight containing (enthrals) ER=the Queen.  I think of him mostly as the author of the Father Brown books but he was prolific and wrote biographies of G.B. Shaw, Dickens and others.
14.  “I can’t stand a naked _ _, anymore than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action ” (Tennessee Williams) (5,4)
LIGHT BULB.  From A Streetcar Named Desire and spoken by Blanche Dubois.
16.  Publicity about champion horse bred for its gait (5)
PACER.  PR=publicity surrounding (about) ACE=champion.
18.  Sort of literary type to get on with books (5)
AGENT.  AGE= get on.  NT=books.
19.  US deals do badly, work of a Russian? (4,5)
DEAD SOULS.  Anagram (badly) of US DEALS DO.  19th Century novel by Nikolai Gogol.
21.  Dyke gets angry with so-so TV writer (10)
DOSTOEVSKY.  Anagram (gets angry) of DYKE (a rather controversial word in the US) and SO SO TV.  Feodor, author of 6D among other famous works.  I was glad of the anagram because there are a number of variants on the spelling and I get confused.
24.  Lead the FBI’s Clarice half dismissed (4)
STAR.  Clarice Starling is the GWoman in the Thomas Harris novel (and the movie adapted from it) Silence Of The Lambs.  Remove (dismiss) LING – half of her name.
26.  Yarn that’s a part of Chasing Rainbows (7)
INGRAIN.  This was my DNK.  Hidden clue contained in [Chas]ING RAIN[bows].  Apparently when a noun it’s a carpeting term.
27.  Play 45 minutes then change ends for Northern FA (3,4)
OUR TOWN.  45 minutes=3/4 of an [h]OUR with NOWT=nothing in the Northern UK=F[anny] A[dams] switching ends.  1930s play by American Thornton Wilder.  Seeing that this puzzle had a Talos by-line and knowing that he is a football aficionado the FA was an effective ruse and gave me (happily temporarily) a sinking feeling.
28.  Rabbit, badger and nag weathered bad storm (5,8)
HARRY ANGSTROM.  Principal character in John Updike’s “Rabbit” novels.  HARRY=badger, with anagrams (weathered and bad) of NAG and STORM.


1.  Hegel put off tackling a philosopher’s novel (3,6)
THE PLAGUE.  Anagram (off) of HEGEL PUT with (tackling) A.  Work by Jean Paul SartreAhem non!  C’est Albert Camus.  Merci Kevin.
2.  Ms. Bowles hasn’t the head to collaborate (4)
ALLY.  Sally Bowles is the protagonist in Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye To Berlin stories (and in the movie adaptation Cabaret), removing her head.
3.  Drunk hens down about posh Bridget’s job (10)
NEWSHOUND.  Anagram (drunk) of HENS DOWN with U=posh.  This was the one that caused confusion.  Some of us assumed this referred to Bridget Jones of “diary” fame.  Her fictional job was in PR for a publishing company.  Her creator, Helen Fielding, was indeed a “newshound” of a sort as a columnist for The Independent where the character originated.  But she wasn’t a reporter which is what the word usually means.  Perhaps we could get an authoritative word on this?
4.  Logger in high spirits by hollowed out yews (5)
PEPYS.  Samuel.  Not a lumberjack but the 17th Century diarist who was rather more consequential than Bridget.  PEP=high spirits, with Y[ew]S (hollowed out).
5.  Play about politician’s set teeth on edge! (3,7)
THE TEMPEST.  Anagram (about) of SET TEETH surrounding (on edge) MP=politician.
6.  Paper and books opened by one Prince Myshkin? (5)
IDIOT.  ID=papers.  OT=books containing (opened by) I=one.  By 21A
7.  Doctor’s up in anger about chap who continued Fleming’s work (7)
GARDNER.  John. DR=doctor reversed (up) in anagram (about) of ANGER.  He extended the Bond franchise for Fleming Publications.
8.  Vacuous imbeciles back king and country (6)
ISRAEL.  I[mbecile]S (vacuous) with LEAR=king reversed (back).
13.  Still something found in a writer’s bureau, I’m told? (10)
STATIONARY.  Homophone (I’m told) of “stationery”.
15.  McEwan’s novel bet on greyhounds brings in pound (5,4)
BLACKDOGS.  BACK=bet, DOGS=greyhounds, containing (brings in) L=pound.  1992 novel by Ian McEwan.
17.  Type of drama to see upcoming Othello? (9)
COURTROOM.  COURT=see, as in “woo” or “date”.  ROOM=moor (Othello) reversed (upcoming).  Witness For The Prosecution, for example.
18.  A Liberal Democrat and wealthy bad boy author? (7)
ALDRICH.  Thomas Bailey, American author.  A L=Liberal D=Democrat with RICH=wealthy.  The Bad Boy is his 1870 novel.
20.  They’ll have one on the rocks with their Lilt (6)
SIRENS.  Double definition.  It took a while to parse this because I’d never heard of the drink (Lilt).  Apparently the Coca Cola Company doesn’t sell it in the US.  Good one.
22.  “If there are no spots on a — cube then I’ve just put dice in my tea”  (Robert Rankin) (5)
SUGAR.  I didn’t know this quotation but it was a cinch to guess.  From his comic 1991 novel The Antipope (which has a couple more bad boys in it).
23.  French wine overwhelms edith Nesbit initially – it’s toxic stuff (5)
VENIN.  VIN=French wine containing (overwhelms) E[dith] N[esbit] (initially).
25.  Name for rabbit about to be potted by British queen (4)
BRER.  RE=about contained in B=British and R=queen.  Clever bunny from the Uncle Remus tales from African American folklore as written by Joel Chandler Harris.

10 comments on “TLS Crossword 1164 by Talos — February 24, 2017”

    1. Sacre bleu, j’avais des Nausees! That’s what comes of dispensing with Google.
  1. Easy indeed, with one embarrassingly easy quote (22d) and one embarrassingly easy def (Myshkin). And I was able to avoid Google while being ignorant of far too many references: Welsh, Gardner, INGRAIN, Urquhart (I only knew the original translator of Rabelais), … With the P and S in at 4d, I still could only come up with Powys for a rather long time. OUR TOWN a COD to make the whole thing worth while.
  2. 21A: In a British context, we can claim that “Dyke” with a capital D is Greg Dyke, Director General of the BBC 2000-2004.

    3D: I also didn’t know that BJ spent some of her time as a TV newshound (see Maybe not enough of her time for this clue to be used in a harder puzzle, now that I know others struggled too.

    1. Thanks for this Peter – the clip made me laugh. Renee Zellweger is one of the very few American actors who can pull of an authentic sounding British accent. And that also explains “dyke’ and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to miss the reference.
  3. This has to be the easiest TLS of the current era. I was under 12 minutes, though with a slapdash Andstrom.

    24 reminded me how weird I always found it to hear Anthony Hopkins pronouncing Clarice the American way instead of like my auntie’s name. Incidentally, just happened across the QI claim that Hannibal Lecter’s infamous liver, fava beans and chianti quote is a clever medical joke.

    Thanks for the blog, Olivia.

  4. Threw down the metaphorical pen on this one in 26 minutes, only to discover that this didn’t even qualify me for page 2, so yes, definitely an easy one, achieved without recourse to Google. A couple of subtleties passed me by: I didn’t see the capital L on Lilt and read the clue as a nearly cryptic. And where I’m aware of Dyke the Beeb man, it didn’t occur to me as more than anagram fodder on the day: both obviously cleverer than I thought.
    I particularly appreciated the wordplay for both bits of OUR TOWN, with its football diversion.
    PEPYS as a logger took a while to sink in
    Fine blog Olivia, looking forward to your name check in a couple of weeks time. And getting the answer to 5ac past the censors in next week’s blog.
  5. Does this parse as you suggest? I took the clue to be SET TEETH rearranged, of course, but with ‘on edge’ the anagrind, and ‘about’ meaning, well, about. I can’t say I care for ‘on edge’ used this way, but ‘about’ where it is would seem to have to include MPS.
  6. Well I got mine from GCHQ so I know it’s right. Although yours works too.
  7. Very easy as you say – I managed 6m40 without needing to look anything up at any point: eeven the quotations fell right into place with a couple of checkers and a moment’s thought. Enjoyable and definitely giving the lie to the popular (mis)conception that the TLS puzzle is only for the brainboxes!

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