TLS Crossword 1180 by Talos – June 16, 2017 A host of golden brickies

This one definitely had its points of interest, not to say contention. Initially hiding his light under a bit of Printer’s Devilry, Talos has provided us with some devious and mind-stretching cluing. With a fine anagram and a slightly condescending (but it serves him right) definition 14d is the pick of the bunch for me.
In the course of an hour’s solving, I achieved the distinction of two mistakes, one of which I have identified while writing up this commentary, the other of which I am clearly too brain-impaired to spot, so if you have come here for the definitive solution, you’ve got me and my remaining error instead. Best of luck!
I have enjoyed the process of chasing down the gristly lit bits, and present my findings below, trying LJ’s delay feature with some trepidation but little alternative given time restraints. The usual clue/definition/SOLUTION conventions.


1. Blair book fan mail poor, member scoffs (6,4)
ANIMAL FARM   Not too tough to begin with, so long as you remember Orwell’s real name. An anagram of FAN MAIL (poor) plus ARM for member and scoffs for no particular reason.
6. “Who is John ?” (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged) (4)
GALT  A recurring question in the cited book.
9. This type of opera is of little worth (10)
THREEPENNY Dreigroschenoper doesn’t fit very well, so we make do with the English version of Bertold Brecht’s version of John Gay’s Beggars Opera
10. Step out of a place Louis’s twin knew well? (4)
STIR  Well now. In at least one version of the Man in the Iron Mask, King Louis (no, not the King of the Jungle, the French guy) has a twin who is kept locked in the titular kit and incarcerated in case something terrible happens which could only happen in a Dumas novel. So I figure STIR: prison and STIR (just about) to step out as of bed. Perhaps a better explanation of the step bit is that step is STAIR, then “out of” A, making it wordplay not double definition.
12. Eyre’s cruel aunt is always contrary, note (4)
REED  The wordplay is E’ER always  in contrary fashion (backwards, natch) and D as an any one from 7 note. Mrs Reed is in Jane Eyre and performs the function advertised without benefit of baptismal name.
13. Silver relative planted on flash swordsman (9)
DARTAGNAN  Silver AG, relative NAN, flash DART. Assemble in order proposed, and resist the temptation to slip in a tiny apostrophe.
15. She put out Squire Arden in old Plath novel (8)
OLIPHANT  There was me looking for a Sylvia Plath novel about a Squire and his female nemesis. But it’s not. Margaret Oliphant is the novelist of “Squire Arden” and old Plath is the anagram (novel) fodder.
16. For court and duke, I told a handmaid’s tale (6)
ATWOOD  I think you equate for to AT, court to WOO and of course D to Duke. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of her many books. Now lives in Toronto, hooray.
18. Quiet husband in thrall to European nymph (6)
DAPHNE I think “in thrall” just means “possessed by”, in this case P (quiet) H(usband) by DANE, definitely still a European.
20. Drink manly maiden chucked over Argos boss (8)
MELAMPUS  Ruler of Argos in ancient Greece. Drink: SUP, manly: MALE, maiden: M. Assemble and reverse all.
23. London-set novel: vampy parody of Zadie’s debut? (5,4)
WHITE FANG Jack LONDON’s novel, originally serialised (Set? Maybe). Zadies’s 2000 novel is White Teeth, so I suppose one is a vampire-ish version of the other.
24. Argument going on about Ted Hughes’s character (4)
CROW  About is C(irca) onto which ROW is tacked.
26. Listen to forward royal, the woman’s a titan (4)
RHEA is our Titan(ess) clued by listen: HEAR with the R(oyal) advanced to the front. A secondary clue, the woman’s: HER plus A suggests a different answer who also happens to be Rhea’s daughter Hera. Kind of confusing.
27. Police often brace one of Magwitch’s kind (10)
BENEFACTOR  Police is the ingenious anagram indicator, the fodder being OFTEN BRACE. So Pip’s benefactor wasn’t Miss Haverham after all. Make mine a Stella!
28. Bad reaction to ham appearing at Christmas event? (4)
HISS  Fair cop. The (Christmas) pantomime villain is invariably a ham actor, and it traditionally so greeted. I think that’s it.
29. Honest and resilient clue-solving kid (5,5)
FRANK HARDY One of the Hardy Boys brought to life by Edward Stratemeyer and friends, and translated for us as honest and resilient.


1. Play parts musical’s lead turned down (4)
ACTS  Cats the musical with it’s lead demoted one place.
2. Island priest must ring artist in Oz, perhaps (7)
ISRAELI  A reference to Amos Oz, celebrated Israeli writer, now living in Arad, Israel. IS from island, ELI the priest, RA the artist encircled.
3. “The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to .” (William Gibson, Neuromancer) (1,4,7)
A DEAD CHANNEL  Look it up.
4. He put an end to Tom Jones taking questions (8)
FIELDING  Henry, who wrote Tom Jones, characterised by taking or fielding questions. I suppose he puts and end to TJ if you count a happy one.
5. Foxville’s king gets worked up with ruddy skin (6)
RENARD the wordplay is RAN (worked) backwards (up) with a RED (ruddy) skin. King Renard IV is king of Foxville in L. Frank Baum’s “The Road to Oz”
7. Against eating at work? No, I could have lost weight! (7)
ANTONIO  ANTI for against “eats” ON for at work, then O comes from no (I think). Antonio is the pound of flesh unwilling donor in MoV
8. Poet who laments half-baked rotten dish (10)
THRENODIST and an anagram (half baked) of ROTTEN DISH
11. “Vaughan died yesterday in his .” (J.G. Ballard) (4,3-5)
LAST CAR CRASH guess it, or look it up.
14. Worst Dr Who? That could the flowery-talking chap! (10)
WORDSWORTH A surprising and rather wonderful anagram of Worst Dr Who.
17. At sea, eager writer describes a beautiful boat’s colour (3-5)
PEA GREEN  The beautiful boat can only be the Owl and the Pussycat’s. Lay down a keel built from the letters of EAGER “at sea”, then supply and surround the remaining works with your writer, PEN not Lear, the letters of which “describe” in its sense of trace out or delineate.
19. Better travelling around with a valet, Jean? (7)
PHILEAS Ah, I have found one of my errors, in that (possibly influenced by grandchild TV) I spelled Mr Fogg (for it is he) with an N. His valet was Jean Passepartout, though knowing he was called Jean is a lot like knowing Jeeves was called Reginald. Smashing clue, I thought: the use of the valet’s first name steers you to Fogg’s, who is the well-described “better travelling around”
21. Expert player squandering a lead in The Crucible (7)
PROCTOR  The chief male victim of the Salem events, thinly disguised as a McCarthy-accused communist in Arthur Miller’s play. The point where his wife lies to the court to “protect” her husband, thereby accidentally condemning him to death for witchcraft, broke the fourth wall comprehensively when I first saw it, with many audience members crying out advice to her. Oh, the wordplay. Expert: PRO. Player ACTOR, from which you “squander” the A
22. Cathedral planner not against taking on English brickie? (6)
CAREER Possibly the most contentious clue. The answer is suggested by “brickie”, one of many careers culled from the National Careers Service (sic). Then you need to know that American Raymond CARVER wrote a short story called The Cathedral, understand “not against” to require removing the V, and English to provide the replacement E. And….relax.
25. His artwork aged badly, being dull so they said (4)
GRAY As in the Picture of Dorian, which recorded the ravages of a dissolute life while allowing the said liver to remain unblemished. And which sounds like grey, which for our US readers is British English for dull.

5 comments on “TLS Crossword 1180 by Talos – June 16, 2017 A host of golden brickies”

  1. I think that’s (in o plath)*, Z; (old plath) gives you an unwanted D and no N. While I’m here, you’ve got a typo at BENEFACTOR: it’s Miss Havisham.
  2. I enjoyed this puzzle and got most of the references. I guessed at one of the quotes but had to look up the other one. Also didn’t know the Ayn Rand character so had to look that one up too. Left 22dn blank because I had no idea what was going on (did wonder if it was alluding to a Ken Follett novel) so thanks for the enlightenment. “Blair book” at 1ac was a bit of an easy starter-for-ten for which I was grateful. I had Hera initially at the convoluted 26ac but checkers forced me to parse properly to get Rhea. I rather liked 8dn with its “half-baked” anagram indicator going very naturally with the anagram fodder producing a nice bit of vocab. The worst Dr Who and the better travelling around were also appreciated. Thanks you setter. Thank you blogger.
  3. I don’t rarely whine about clues but the definition here was – um – a stretch, for me anyway. After at least 24 hours of marination I did remember the Carver tale and entered CAREER with fingers crossed. Yes, Phileas/Phineas was a very sneaky trap, especially for a Trollope devotee. And I agree that 10a was ST[a]IR. Oh and I also quite agree that Wordsworth gets a special mention.

    In the very small hours of Thursday morning our apartment building had a fire caused by a melt-down of a ConEdison transformer in the basement. This produced a fog of carbon monoxide there and made all the power go phut and all the phones shut off. It turned out that the emergency hallway and stairwell lights run on batteries that only last 3 hours so by 5a.m. pitch darkness prevailed. Luckily we had flashlights and we (and others) crept down the 16 floors and escaped in the clothes we stood up in. We understand normal service resumed sometime yesterday evening but by then we’d been ensconced in Rhinebeck for most of the day, to our great relief.

  4. Sorry, that was OliviaRhinebeck. I’m in the town library. Forgive the garbled comment – it won’t let me edit!
  5. Had a couple of looks at this puzzle and got pretty much nowhere. Congrats to all who finished it.

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