Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 (DT 26156)

This puzzle, from Giovanni, was originally published Friday, February 5, 2010 in The Daily Telegraph

The National Post has skipped DT 26155 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Thursday, February 4, 2010


An interesting and enjoyable puzzle today, but I found it to be a bit on the more difficult end of the scale - perhaps, in part, due to the relatively high incidence of Briticisms contained in it. I was able to complete it - albeit with unanswered questions on the wordplay in a couple of cases. I even managed to track down the name of the former Australian cricketer - which I considered to be a bit of an achievement in itself.

I did note that the two clues for which I encountered particular difficulty in deciphering the wordplay both dealt with "good" individuals ("person who's good" in 14d and "good man" in 17d). Is there a message in the fact that I could solve clues dealing with prisons (24a), illegal dumping (10a) and seedy cinemas (15a) but not one dealing with good people?

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Used in Clues:

pound - see "Used in Solutions" section below

spin bowler - noun cricket a bowler whose technique involves importing variations to the flight and/or spin (noun 2) of the ball.

Used in Solutions:

A. J. Ayer - British philosopher

brick - noun 3 Brit. informal, dated a generous, helpful, and reliable person

fleapit - noun chiefly Brit. a dingy, dirty place, especially a run-down cinema

Ken Livingstone - the first Mayor of London, a post he held from its creation in 2000 until 2008

Newgate Prison - a prison in London, England

owl - [Collins English Dictionary] noun 3. a person who looks or behaves like an owl, esp in having a solemn manner; also [Chambers] noun 3 someone thought to look or behave like an owl, especially by looking solemn or wise, or sitting up late at night [Note: judging by the dictionaries in which this definition was found, it would appear that this usage in commonplace speech may be chiefly British, though I can easily see this image being used in a literary setting]

puppy fat - noun U.K. ( informal ) Same as baby fat

pound1 - noun 1 (symbol £, which is often approximated by the letter "L") the standard unit of currency of the UK. Also called pound sterling.

read - verb 9 chiefly Brit. study (an academic subject) at a university

tip-and-run - adjective U.K. striking and retreating: striking quickly then withdrawing immediately

tip-and-run (also called tippy-go, tippity, tip-hit, hit and run, tipsy, tipneys, one tip or similar) - a variation of "backyard cricket" in which if the batsman hits the ball he or she must run regardless of the distance or quality of the shot played

Shane Warne - a former Australian international cricketer, widely regarded as one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the game, whose specialty was leg spin bowling

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26156].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

23a Bird to relax, having eaten various bits of bread (9)

While the end result is the same, I (unlike Gazza) did not interpret "various bits" to be an anagram indicator. I presumed that the "various bits" were D (formed from the last letter in the word "bread") and BREA (the string formed by the first four letters in the word "bread"). I felt that the clue was a charade within a container, being REST (relax) containing {D + BREA} (various bits of bread).

25a Blond to have boss being dragged along behind (3-4)

According to Chambers, a tow-head is "someone who has very fair hair or tousled hair".

I suspect that the term (which Gazza indicates is new to him) derives from the following meanings:
  • tow2 - noun 1 the coarse and broken part of flax or hemp prepared for spinning. 2 a bundle of untwisted natural or man-made fibres.
I would suggest that the "fair haired" version might relate to the first definition of tow and the "tousled hair" version to the second. Thus the version of tow-headed meaning "fair haired" would seem to be somewhat synonymous with flaxen haired, with the former expression often being used for boys and the latter for girls.

Like Gazza, many of the Brits indicated that this term was unknown to them. However, I do recall having encountered this term. The idea crossed my mind that this might be chiefly an American expression. I thought that I might be onto something when a search revealed that Chambers seemed to be the only British dictionary in which it is found, but it apparently appears in at least seven American dictionaries (based on a search using Onelook Dictionary Search). However, further investigation showed that each of these dictionaries is merely a repackaging of the contents of Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913 Edition.

14d Person who's good with Latin, philosopher who may erect barriers (10)

I found the solution as it was possible to do so based solely on the definition (who may erect barriers) and the checking letters. However, the wordplay eluded me until it was explained by Gazza. My first thought had been that a "person who's good" might be a saint. However, this became obviously incorrect as soon as I had determined the solution.

17d Avarice shown by head of company, and folly - not a good man (8)

After my experience with 14d, I decided to take one more crack at the wordplay here before looking at Gazza's review. Perhaps it was the benefit of several hours away from the puzzle, but I realized that the key to the solution is recognizing that one should be looking for the absence of a saint, rather than the presence of one.

19d This person in firm gets hurt. (6)

As we see here, the setter may use phrases such as "this person" to refer to himself (or herself), with the solution often requiring the substitution of a pronoun such as "I" or "me" for the phrase.

Signing off for today - Falcon

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