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Sunday Times 4593 by Dean Mayer

16:30 on the club timer.

A gentle, relatively vanilla offering from Dean this week. Nothing wrong with that, of course: his puzzles needn't be exquisite torture every time, and I had a bit of a hangover when solving this so was grateful for something a bit gentler than usual. I enjoyed solving it.

Happy Father's Day to any dads reading. I have just seen it in watching England going down to an honourable defeat against Italy with my eldest son, who is nine. I have never enjoyed a football match more.

1 Servant concealed bags with mother
HANDMAID - AND (with), MA (mother) inside HID (concealed). 'Bags' is the containment indicator.
6 Cows stand up, quietly going round the bend
DAUNTS - tricky clue this, which I didn't understand until after I'd finished. It's an anagram of STAND UP without the P, or 'quietly going'. 'Round the bend' is the anagrind, but confused me because I thought the bend was the U, and I had to put something around it. Unsurprisingly I couldn't make this work.
9 Socket most fit before getting old Walkman?
PORTABLE STEREO - or PORT, ABLEST, ERE, O. I think of a PORTABLE STEREO as what used to be called a 'ghetto blaster'. A Walkman is more a personal stereo. Is it just me?
10 A City love story
11 Smoke and ice swirling around one horse
CIGGIE - an anagram of ICE around 1 GG.
13 Mix, when that's so right
ASSORT - AS, SO, RT. 'That's' is filler, to be read as 'that has'. Right can be RT as well as R. You get similar behaviour from saints.
15 Downright hard, or having hard shell
THOROUGH - H, OR surrounded by TOUGH.
16 I'd make good sort of theatre publicist?
REPAIRER - REP (sort of theatre), AIRER (publicist).
19 River bed polluted around waste outlet, mostly.
DANUBE - an anagram of 'bed' surrounding... you can work the rest out for yourself. I wonder if Dean tried to work in a reference to the bottom of the river.
21 Force to decorate nursing uniform
DURESS - U (uniform: radio communication) in DRESS.
22 Mistake - primarily, own goal.
OMISSION - O (primarily, own), MISSION.
24 Stop tap being applied to nut.
KNOCK ON THE HEAD - double definition: one figurative, one literal.
26 Overtake old car made by Kia.
EXCEED - EX (old), CEE'D. To quote Jeremy Clarkson, 'the only car with an apostrophe in its name'. A triumph of creovation, no doubt the product of some serious outside-the-box brainstorming and 360-degree blue-sky thinking in the Kia marketing department.
27 Very good indication of loose parts
RATTLING - double definition. If something is RATTLING, it's very good. Or not, in the recent case of my car's compressor. I don't even know what a compressor is, but I can tell you that they are expensive to replace.

2 Mountain plants too short to include connifer
ALPINES - PINE inside ALSO (too short).
3 One minister comes in to see governors
4 Massacre after all those in Mexico have left
ALAMO - A LA (or à la, after) MO. 'All those in Mexico have left' tells you to remove all the letters inside 'Mexico', leaving you with MO. Writing this blog up, I realised that beyond its name I knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about the Battle of the Alamo. Now I do, so even if no-one reads this the exercise will not have been futile.
5 Least interesting airport opening for travellers
DULLEST - I did know that Dulles International Airport was named after John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under Eisenhower.
6 Bill in nightclub one way to create conflict
DISACCORD - AC (bill) in DISCO, then RD. The 'one' looks like padding to help the surface, although to be fair there is only one road in the clue.
7 Advantage of American English
USE - US, E. ODO has 'the value or advantage of something' as a definition of USE.
8 Become upset about artist being alive
TEEMING - reversal of GET (become) about EMIN (artist). A reminder that living people are allowed in the Sunday puzzles. To see how TEEMING means 'alive', add 'with'.
12 What makes coffee good? Stirring
GROUNDSWELL - GROUNDS make coffee. Add WELL (good) and read 'stirring' as a gerund.
14 Flog antiquated door
THRESHOLD - I was a bit puzzled by this as I thought THRESH just meant to separate grain from husks, but it also means 'thrash'. Add OLD (antique).
17 Biannual event short of horses? Bull!
EQUINOX - EQUINE ('of horses'), OX.
18 Chicken roll with added duck
ROOSTER - add O (duck) to ROSTER.
20 Stretch of thoroughfare with mountain crossing
BROADEN - ROAD (thoroughfare) inside BEN (mountain).
23 Useless home record - heading for this
INEPT - IN, EP, This. I wonder when setters will start feeling the need to add 'formerly' or 'once' when they clue EP or LP as 'record'.
25 Reminder of line to be said
CUE - sounds like 'queue'.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 15th, 2014 02:04 am (UTC)
Over the half-hour, but that's what I normally am with Dean's (and indeed with all STs); chuffed to finish all correct. DNK 26ac. Also DNK EMIN, which made 8d my LOI. Nor did I know that GG was a form of 'gee-gee'. And I'd come all this way thinking that biannual meant biennial not semi-annual, although I didn't even notice this until long after I'd solved. I see no reason for 'one' in the clue in 6d. COD of course to DANUBE; rather Timmooreyish clue, no?
Jun. 15th, 2014 02:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for great blog, enabling me to understand a few that had gone in on a wing and a prayer (notably the horribilis DANUBE and DURESS - need to bone up on my Foxtrot Tango stuff...)

Managed to get all bar DAUNTS (I was mistakenly in bovine country) and TEEMING (went half heartedly for FEELING which - unsurprisingly - I could not parse!)

ALAMO I fortunately knew thanks to that old songster Donovan: not sure about the historical accuracy of his verses, but a very pleasing little number and well worth a listen if you still have a secret hankering for cheesecloth shirts and flares.

My COD was EQUINOX closely followed by KNOCK ON THE HEAD.

Jun. 15th, 2014 06:17 am (UTC)
Not so easy for me but more accessible than some of DM's offerings. I didn't actually know the car but everything else was comfortably within my range of knowledge. Anyone alive during the 1950s would know about The Alamo via Disney's "Davy Crockett" film. Is this ever revived, I wonder?
Jun. 15th, 2014 06:34 am (UTC)
Forget the Alamo!
Film? I thought it was a TV series. All I can remember--and I wish I could forget--is the week I spent in a hospital ward with pneumonia in the company of a 3-year-old boy screaming the refrain of the song over and over and over again, to the accompaniment of a 3-year-old girl screaming endlessly for her mother. Ah, memories!
Jun. 15th, 2014 07:34 am (UTC)
Re: Forget the Alamo!
Yes, it was an early 1950s TV series in America but I'm pretty sure it wasn't known in the UK until Disney stitched he first three episodes together and gave it a cinema release in 1954/5 as "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier." There are some 20 verses to the Ballad.
Jun. 15th, 2014 08:40 am (UTC)
Re: Forget the Alamo!
It starred an unknown actor called Fes Parker who interestingly went on to found a top class winery - very unusual career development
Jun. 15th, 2014 07:34 am (UTC)
Exactly an hour for a pleasant offering, where I was left scratching my head over the Kia car clue (I was seeing if I could work Ora in) and only got 'teeming' after a visit to one of the Internet's crib sites.

And they say the Danube isn't really blue....
Jun. 15th, 2014 08:20 am (UTC)
Would agree that this was gentle by Dean's standards, but enjoyable nonetheless. Is PORTABLE STEREO an actual expression? Personal stereo, sure, but PORTABLE STEREO seems like just two words bunged together.
Jun. 15th, 2014 08:44 am (UTC)
Too easy for an Anax crossword. My printed grid has zero annotations whereas it is usually covered in attempts to unpick parsing. Can't find 9A in Chambers which I derived from checkers and wordplay.
Jun. 15th, 2014 11:25 am (UTC)
Here's one place that recognises the concept for 9A:


There are plenty of recognisable sequences of words not listed in dictionaries, often because the meaning is clear from the individual words - more so with "portable stereo" than "personal stereo".

The contract of employment for Sunday Times crossword setters does not say that they are compelled to sustain a particular level of difficulty. My hope is that most solvers are willing to try puzzles from all three.
Jun. 15th, 2014 06:25 pm (UTC)
It's exceptionally rare to encounter answers in crosswords that have no reference work support, even if their meaning is clear, no? Phrases such as "mauve book" or "curved banana" are entirely intelligible, but I'd be surprised/disgruntled to see them as answers in a puzzle.

That Wikipedia page appears to have been created simply because PORTABLE STEREO appeared in a 2005 newspaper article title. The body of the newspaper article doesn't even mention PORTABLE STEREO (but does reference personal stereo twice) so the grounds for creating a Wikipedia page for the phrase seem flimsy.
Jun. 15th, 2014 09:33 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, and whatever the dictionaries say, I've certainly come across the phrase PORTABLE STEREO. I asked my wife what she thinks one is and her immediate response was 'ghetto blaster', followed swiftly by 'or Walkman'. So by the rules I generally live by that settles it.
If you type the word 'portable' into Google the first suggestion that comes up is 'DVD player'. Times change.
Jun. 15th, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC)
My sister in law is a marriage celebrant in Queensland, and she possesses a Portable Chapel (as she calls it) - bit like a glorified beach windbreak which she carries around to perform ceremonies on the beaches along the Gold coast.

I await with keen anticipation...
Jun. 16th, 2014 08:57 am (UTC)
Maybe rarer than I thought, but I would't believe Wikipedia alone. There seems to be recognition of the phrase outside Wikipedia - try a Google search (with quotes) for "portable stereo reviews" for example.
Jun. 16th, 2014 09:24 am (UTC)
I don't think it is rare. It's just a word pairing that requires no explanation: you don't need a dictionary to tell you that a PORTABLE STEREO is a stereo that's portable. Something similar applies to grated cheese and collarless shirts.
Jun. 16th, 2014 09:32 am (UTC)
Sure, but the rarity mentioned by mohn2 isn't of "portable stereo", but of phrases like this in cryptic crosswords. I suspect I failed to check "portable stereo", because it was perfectly understandable. Grated cheese is a better example than I thought of, though even this creeps into ODE as an example for "grated".

Edited at 2014-06-16 09:32 am (UTC)
Jun. 16th, 2014 11:22 am (UTC)
Fair point.
Quite a lot of food fits into this category. Frozen peas, frozen yoghurt, strawberry jam, chocolate cake...
Jul. 9th, 2014 03:09 pm (UTC)
Re: 4 Down
How many ears did Davy Crockett have?

Three. His left ear, his right ear and his wild front ear.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )