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Solving Time: None recorded

I'm on holiday this week, and I struggled through this one over several sessions, before resorting to aids (my Dad) for 3d. There were a lot of comments on the forum about whether this was an acceptable clue or not, due to the obscurity of the answer. I didn't know it, but I have no complaints about it. If I objected to every word or phrase I hadn't heard of then I'd never get through a grid without one!

I did (and still do) have a problem with 5d though. This is issue was raised with the first comment on the forum and immediately answered by the editor (Thanks, PB). However, I still can't see how it works as it stands - 'as was masseur' to me implies that the massuer was kneaded, and that makes no sense.

cd = cryptic def., dd = double def., rev = reversal, homophones are written in quotes, anagrams as (--)*, and removals like this

4MAN + I(FE)S + TO
9OS + CILLA + TEst
10LINE + N
11DOWN IN THE MOUTH - dd - I'm not convinced about 'Dicky' for a definition, but it clearly adds a lot to the surface, so I'll let it go.
13NICKNAME = NICK (jug, i.e. prison) + eNAMEl
17TOMATO = TOTO (in this is completely, i.e. 'in toto') about MA (mum)
20GOT NOWHERE FAST = (HE WAS FORGOTTEN)* - a neat anagram
23HYDRA - rev hidden
24ANDALUSIA = (U + LAD) rev in (ASIAN)*
26RUMMY - dd
1COORDINATE = (DECORATION)* - another good anagram
3TELL IT NOT IN GATH = (LITTLE)* + H about (NOTING + AT)* - I didn't know this phrase and I probably would have had to resort to aids if my Dad hadn't managed to dredge it up from somewhere.
4ME ANTI-ME - I rather liked this expression of self-loathing
5NEEDED = "KNEADED" - although surely it should be 'as did masseur' not 'as was masseur', the masseur will have been doing the kneading, not receiving it.
6FELLOW TRAVELLER = FELT (thought) + RAVELLER (one would snarl, i.e. tangle) all about LOW (dirty)
7SANATORIA = AIRS rev about (A + NATO)
8OINK = OK (so-so) about IN (home) - I liked the clever use of 'nursing home'
12ROCK-STEADY - a Spoonerism for STOCK READY (supply prepared)
22W + HIP


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 13th, 2014 02:06 am (UTC)
I've never finished one of Dean's puzzles in under a half-hour before, so I'm rather chuffed; although knowing 3d helped vastly, and it wasn't too tricky in general. I suspect it helped being of a certain age, although I'm pretty sure that 'Tell it Not in Gath' is also the title of one of St. John Clarke's novels in Anthony Powell's wonderful 'Dance to the Music of Time'. DNK 'dicky', never heard the name Cilla, DNK Massa (I did recall Messi, which of course did me no good) but no problem given the checkers.
Apr. 13th, 2014 04:35 am (UTC)
5 across
Mr. Perry,

Many thanks for your excellent blogs.

Is it possible to know what PB said about 5 across?

Thank you,
Adrian Cobb
Apr. 13th, 2014 04:43 am (UTC)
Re: 5 across
In response to a solver who suggested on the forum of the Times Crossword Club that 'Missed, as did masseur reportedly' would have read better, Peter wrote:

'It depends what you mean by "read better". If this is a polite way of saying you think the clue logic doesn't work, then you've probably identified the same "mistake" as I did in editing the puzzle. But if you read it the right way, that mistake goes away. If you understand that but still think the obvious version is preferable, it's a question of taste rather than logic.'

I think the argument could benefit from a little expansion!
Apr. 13th, 2014 06:11 am (UTC)
Re: 5 across
Fred was (a) masseur=Fred kneaded (I confess this just came to me now.)

Edited at 2014-04-13 06:12 am (UTC)
Apr. 13th, 2014 08:54 am (UTC)
Apr. 13th, 2014 04:38 am (UTC)
With so many Biblical quotations, events and allusions to choose from, it was a pity this one (all but unknown to those under 60, and even some of those over) should be chosen, especially as the wordplay wasn't unambiguous. I agree too that the 'kneaded' clue doesn't really work. Having said that, there was much to like, as may be expected from Dean.
Apr. 13th, 2014 06:24 am (UTC)
Never heard of SWEATS, MASSA, nor of STERNO, but I envy Kevin a life in which one has never heard the name Cilla. If only I could have been so lucky!

The 5dn argument never occurred to me but I now see the problem, and in my view obscurities such as 3dn demand clearer wordplay as an alternative way in. 'All in enamel' in my book is still ENAMEL.

Edited at 2014-04-13 06:25 am (UTC)
Apr. 13th, 2014 08:55 am (UTC)
Presumably it puts you in a black mood Jack?
Apr. 13th, 2014 07:26 am (UTC)
A brilliant crossword this, some spectacular clues and Dean's trademark slick surface readings. Eg 1ac, 26ac, top class.
I was surprised 3dn was classed as obscure.. I suppose bible study is not as widespread nowadays as it was in my youth. But it is also a book title and even a tee-shirt!
I can see that 5dn works OK technically, but still not terribly keen on it
Apr. 13th, 2014 08:17 am (UTC)
I had the bible rammed down my throat for about 15 years yet I don't recall this one. Maybe I simply blotted it out of my consciousness along with a lot of other similar stuff.
Apr. 13th, 2014 08:32 am (UTC)
A good clue for TLS? :)
Apr. 13th, 2014 08:27 am (UTC)
David's lament for Jonathan
The passage (2 Samuel ch. 1) is well known, by OT standards, contributing some well known phrases to the lexicon such as "How are the mighty fallen" as well as "thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women".

The Gath bit forms the proem and is, I would venture, far less familiar to most people.

Edited at 2014-04-13 08:31 am (UTC)
Apr. 13th, 2014 08:41 am (UTC)
I don't know how I dredged up 3d from my fading memory banks, but it must have been either from 10 years of Sunday School, or that I've come across it as a maxim for "don't spread rumours" somewhere in old films or TV shows.
I stumbled at 15a, which I'd not heard of and now find is actually a brand name - is that allowed? Product placement perchance?
Apr. 13th, 2014 08:43 am (UTC)
The problem with 3dn is not the obscurity or otherwise of the reference, but the ambiguity of the wordplay, which makes it unsolvable if you don't know the phrase. I didn't so the wordplay led me to TELL IT NOT IN GASH. To be fair to Dean this sort of thing must be quite hard to spot.
I can't see the problem with 5dn. The wordplay is 'was masseur reportedly'. 'As' is just a linking word.

Edited at 2014-04-13 08:47 am (UTC)
Apr. 13th, 2014 08:54 am (UTC)
I only did the puzzle to find out what the fuss was all about - and then couldn't see the problems! Solved it in 20 minutes - so must be classed as easy by Anax standards

In my early teens I was kept off the streets by The Boys Brigade - an offshoot of the Baptist Church. In addition to lectures on the evils of drink, gambling and loose women our leader had an Amish-style way of speaking based on biblical quotes. That included the GATH stuff. I'd forgotten it but I'm certain it was resurrected in a crossword not too long ago. Trouble is I can't recall which one!
Apr. 13th, 2014 11:08 am (UTC)
It was a Mephisto, Jimbo, but it was just the place. The phrase didn't feature.
Apr. 13th, 2014 09:06 am (UTC)
Thanks for clearing up 5d - even after seeing PBs comment I couldn't figure out how not to read it wrongly. Didn't know 3d, but with all the checkers in place the wordplay got me there (plus a hint from the Forum that it was a biblical quotation, making me more confident in working through the slightly archaic sentence structure). Otherwise, just a pleasant solve.
Apr. 13th, 2014 09:12 am (UTC)
Must have been easy for a Dean as I (a) finished it and (b) only took 10 mins to do so. 3d was dredged from the depths of my memory banks. My only grump was the appearance (again!) of March's setters' word of the month 'OINK'.
Apr. 13th, 2014 11:47 am (UTC)
Well, not as quick as CS but under 20mins. Spend 5 years from age 8 at a High Church boarding school (Mass every morning 0715) and things like 3dn are a piece of cake!

Edited at 2014-04-13 11:48 am (UTC)
Apr. 14th, 2014 07:58 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this puzzle, and also solved it very quickly by DM puzzle standards. Shame that all the discussion has been about 2 clues.

I gave it 3 days to see if 3d would come to me before resorting to aids. And even then I couldn't get it. All my guesses were so far wide of the mark that Google couldn't figure out what I was really searching for (so much for artificial intelligence, huh). Still I won't forget TELL IT NOT IN GATH in a hurry.
Apr. 14th, 2014 04:06 pm (UTC)
This is the first Dean Mayer offering I have ever finished in under 30 minutes (though at 29m just scraped in under the wire). No real problems except that, like many others, I couldn't parse NEEDED. In spite of being brought up among the ungodly, I seem to know a lot of biblical quotations - very helpful in this case.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 05:40 am (UTC)
From Julie
15 ac.
I am in Victoria, Australia and I have never heard of sterno.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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