Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 — DT 27711

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27711
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27711]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
archy and mehitabel (pommers and Kath)
BD Rating
Difficulty - ★★ Enjoyment - ★★★
Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved
The National Post has skipped DT 27710 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 and which appeared on this blog yesterday as a Bonus Puzzle.


To commemorate the Sixth Anniversary of Big Dave's Crossword Blog (which I noted in my blog yesterday), the blogging duo of archy and mehitabel (pommers and Kath) get back together again. If you are unfamiliar with the story behind this nom de plume, see my blog from August 11, 2014.

I found this a bit more than two star difficulty. Despite this, I did manage to complete the puzzle without electronic help — other than looking up a couple of the solutions to verify that such words actually existed.

Those among you who follow the banter on Big Dave's blog may be pleased to see that Brian has regained a glimmer of his old spark.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in all-in-one (&lit.) clues, semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//). Definitions presented in blue text are for terms that appear frequently.


1a   Manservant's short speech // expressing farewell (11)

Valediction[5] can mean either (1) the action of saying farewell ⇒ (i) he lifted his hand and spread his palm in valediction; (ii) As far as I can tell, codes for friendly valediction seem to be a lot looser in the US or (2) a statement or address made at or as a farewell ⇒ his official memorial valediction.

The markup shown above for the clue (which archy and mehitabel employed) presumes the first meaning. When used in this sense, the word commonly occurs (as in usage example (i) above) in the phrase "in valediction". In this case, it would seem to be the phrase "in valediction" that means "expressing farewell". However, in usage example (ii), the word "valediction"does appear on its own seemingly meaning "expressing farewell".

Personally, I parsed the clue based on the second sense above, the markup for which is:
  • 1a   Manservant's short speech /expressing/ farewell (11)
in which the word "expressing" plays the role of a link word between the wordplay and definition.

9a   Cockeyed /with/ draught -- most of kebab is left (4-5)

This was my last clue to solve. Even after arriving at the correct solution, I hesitated for a while thinking that what I had come up with was too improbable to even bother looking up in the dictionary. I should have known better. I have been burned before by underestimating the eccentricities of British English.

Not only does the solution appear improbable, the components of the charade are a bit tenuous.

Technically, I would say that kebab and skewer are not synonymous:
  • Kebab[5] (North American also kabob) means a dish of pieces of meat, fish, or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit.
  • A skewer[5] is a long piece of wood or metal used for holding pieces of food, typically meat, together during cooking ⇒ thread the meat on to large skewers and grill over a gentle heat.
However, if one were seated at a picnic table and — having just polished off one kebab — were to say ⇒ please pass me another skewer, I am sure one would expect to be handed an entire kebab and not a bare skewer.

This draught is certainly an exceedingly gentle and short-lived one. A draught[5] is a current of cool air in a room or other confined space. A whiff[5] is a puff or breath of air or smoke ⇒ whiffs of smoke emerged from the boiler.

The wordplay is SKEW {most of kebab; more than half the letters of SKEW[ER] (kebab)} preceding (is [to the] left) + WHIFF (draught).

Skew-whiff[5] is an informal British term (adverb or adjective) meaning not straight or askew ⇒ he knocked my wig skew-whiff.

10a   Griped about piano missing /in/ requiem (5)

"piano" = P (show explanation )

Piano[3,5] (abbreviation p[5]), is a musical direction meaning either (as an adjective) soft or quiet or (as an adverb) softly or quietly.

hide explanation

11a   Work on engine/'s/ air increase (4-2)

12a   Dicky is mature but with energy for a // retired professor (8)

Dicky[10] is an informal British term meaning in bad condition; shaky, unsteady, or unreliable ⇒ I feel a bit dicky today.

"energy" = E (show explanation )

In physics, E[5] is a symbol used to represent energy.

hide explanation

13a   Putting last of effluvium in piping /is/ the answer (6)

Piping[5] is used in the sense of high-pitched ⇒ the piping voice of a little girl.

15a   Indonesian // opossum a tranquilliser's restraining (8)

Sumatra[5] is a large island of Indonesia, situated to the south-west of the Malay Peninsula, from which it is separated by the Strait of Malacca; chief city, Medan.

18a   Right checking fruit -- and very English! -- // that grows in swamps (8)

19a   Brand's very loud // exit (3,3)

"very loud" = FF (show explanation )

Fortissimo[5] (abbreviation ff[5]) is a direction used in music to mean either (as an adjective) very loud  or (as an adverb) very loudly.

hide explanation

Scratching the Surface
The surface reading is likely meant to suggest English comedian Russell Brand[7]. Brand has received media coverage for controversies such as his dismissal from MTV, his behaviour as a presenter at various award ceremonies, and his drug use. In 2008, he resigned from the BBC following prank calls he made to actor Andrew Sachs on The Russell Brand Show. He has incorporated his drug use, alcoholism, and promiscuity into his comedic material.

A distant runner-up for the honours might be English comedienne Jo Brand[7] whom we met in a recent puzzle.

21a   Green shoots could be a sign of this // core getting recycled? Really? (8)

23a   At first lost without key /in/ narrow passage (6)

Behind the Picture
The Menai Strait[7] is a narrow stretch of shallow tidal water about 25 km (16 mi) long, which separates the island of Anglesey from the mainland of Wales.

In the review on Big Dave's blog, archy (pommers) says The photo’s for Jane. Followers of the comments portion of Big Dave's blog will know that Jane (a regular commenter) lives in the vicinity of the Menai Strait and that pommers once moored his sailboat in that area and frequently sailed those waters [see the thread attached to Comment #30 on Big Dave's site].

26a   Criticised /in/ turn by article in Times (3,2)

Get at[5] is an informal British term meaning to criticize (someone) subtly and repeatedly ⇒ I hope you didn’t think I was getting at you.

Scratching the Surface
The Times[7] is a British daily national newspaper based in London.

27a   Leader? // Real idiot, unfortunately (9)

Continuing with the theme, leader is a British term for a leading article in a newspaper.

28a   Swim in calm /is/ happy coincidence (11)


1d   Guest /given/ vermouth in shade (7)

"vermouth" = IT (show explanation )

It[5] is an informal, dated British term for Italian vermouth ⇒ he poured a gin and it.

hide explanation

2d   Make a late start /with/ invention at home (3,2)

Lie in[5] is a British term meaning to remain in bed after the normal time for getting up ⇒ if I’m not due anywhere I’ll lie in until something kick-starts the day [I only knew it was a British term because the dictionary told me so. I wouldn't be surprised to hear the expression in Canada, although I suppose the term "sleep in[5]" is used more commonly.].

3d   Crashed, falling short of // the Antipodes (4,5)

"Another word used to describe a crashed computer system" ... or a crashed aircraft.

The Antipodes[5] is a term used by inhabitants of the northern hemisphere to refer to Australia and New Zealand.

4d   Money /for/ stamp (4)

A double definition, the first being another word for money and the second a process for manufacturing the first.

Coin[5] means to make (coins) by stamping metal ⇒ guineas and half-guineas were coined.

5d   Popular female a victim of farmer's wife? /That's/ shocking (8)

"Three Blind Mice[7]" is an English nursery rhyme and musical round.

The modern words are:
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice.
6d   Low point, // coming from Barcelona direction (5)

Scratching the Surface
Barcelona[5] is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain, capital of Catalonia; population 1,615,908 (est. 2008).

7d   Relative /with/ crushes (4-3)

8d   Story set to music // or a three-part composition about love (8)

"love" = O (show explanation )

In tennis, squash, and some other sports, love[5] is a score of zero or nil ⇒ love fifteen. The resemblance of a zero written as a numeral (0) to the letter O leads to the cryptic crossword convention of the word "love" being used to clue this letter.

hide explanation

An oratorio[5] is a large-scale, usually narrative musical work for orchestra and voices, typically on a sacred theme, performed without costume, scenery, or action. Well-known examples include Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Handel’s Messiah, and Haydn’s The Creation.

14d   Islanders with little or nothing to look back on? (4,4)

The Manx cat[10] is a short-haired tailless variety of cat, believed to originate on the Isle of Man[5], a British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea.

16d   8 failing to start if translated /from/ Latin for even more convincing reasons (1,8)

This is another new term for me. It was obvious that a priori was not going to fit but — like Cinderella's ugly stepsisters trying to stuff their oversize feet into a tiny slipper — I did try to cram a posteriori into the too-small space in the grid. I eventually worked out the correct answer from the wordplay — but needed to confirm the result in the dictionary.

The numeral "8" is a cross reference indicator directing the solver to insert the solution to clue 8d in its place to complete the clue. The directional indicator is usually omitted in situations such as this where only a single clue starts in the square that is being referenced.

A fortiori[5] is a term used to express a conclusion for which there is stronger evidence than for a previously accepted one ⇒ they reject all absolute ideas of justice, and a fortiori the natural-law position. It comes from the Latin expression "a fortiori argumento" meaning 'from stronger argument'.

17d   Bug // one could pick up where I am (8)

18d   Ideal man // using power to protect king and queen (2,5)

Rex[5] (abbreviation R[5]) [Latin for king] denotes the reigning king, used following a name (e.g. Georgius Rex, King George) or in the titles of lawsuits (e.g. Rex v. Jones, the Crown versus Jones — often shortened to R. v. Jones).

Similarly, Regina[5] (abbreviation R[5]) [Latin for queen] denotes the reigning queen, used following a name (e.g. Elizabetha Regina, Queen Elizabeth) or in the titles of lawsuits (e.g. Regina v. Jones, the Crown versus Jones — often shortened to R. v. Jones). 

20d   Lay flat out // with no hope of revival (7)

22d   Five broken toes -- // these should get cast (5)

24d   Story /is/ impromptu one with no depth (5)

25d   1000-1's long odds /for/ Potter's Friend (4)

Scratching the Surface
As archy and mehitabel suggest in their review, the surface reading may be intended to make us think of Harry Potter[7], the title character of British author J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of seven fantasy novels.

However, for at least one visitor to Big Dave's site, the clue evoked English author Beatrix Potter[7], who gave us The Tale of Peter Rabbit among other books.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

1 comment:

  1. Found this difficult, with some great clues. Loved 5d - a first rater. 7d 19a 18d and many others were beautifully structured. Stuck on 9a and 16d. 4/4 for me