Thank God it’s Friday 21st of August

I’ve been working from home for the last week, so I’ve ended up in front of the cryptic most days.  I’d like to get the feelings of everyone out there on a trait of non-DA compilers that I find quite frustrating – use of “!”.

As fans of DA, you all enjoy consistent use of the exclamation mark as an indicator of &lit. clues – as I think DA wrote in Meanjin earlier this year, “the Grange Hermitage” of cryptic clues.  However, should you stray into the mid-week crosswords, you’ll find clues like these:

NS yesterday, 23 down: A tooth caught in my tutu skirt! (4)   which is caught in tutu skirt = tu sk = tusk = tooth

DP on Wednesday, 11 across:  Dear Madam, you show off the fleet! (6)  fleet= armada = De arMada M

DP on Wednesday, 25 across:  Don’t delay victory – remove the chaff! (6) remove chaff= winnow = win now = don’t delay victory

These are all good clues, but none is an &lit. clue.  What are your thoughts?  Am I just a whinger who needs to get a real job, or am I a rightfully concerned crossworder, demanding consistency and justice?

Also feel free to comment on the main game which so far looks to be a themeless piece of DA magic.


Update: And with some help from RC on 6 down, I (AS) managed to get the thing out:

DA Antigone

Mysteries abound, though, and I haven’t the foggiest for 10 across, 13 down and the first half of 23 down. Help would be much appreciated.

A Mistake in EP?

In yesterday’s EP, there was the following clue:

23 across: Discussion about Pluto’s route (9)

The answer, as far as I could work it out, is pluto’s route = di’s course = discourse = discussion.

The problem I have is that I can’t think of any connection between pluto and di. Is there one? Or did EP make the mistake of thinking Diana, who is the goddess of the moon, is the goddess of Pluto?

14th of August and the DA

Looks like this one is a themed crossword, although I’ve yet to have a proper crack.

But here discuss, digress, complain, laud, extol and grumble.

Update: And here it is:

Orwell and DA

RC and I at Il Fornaio on Sunday were looking the worse for wear after a long time with a very blank crossword in front of us. The breakthrough happened when RC mentioned Peter Weir and Weter Pier, and everything then fell into place (I’m a big fan of Orwell’s).

Happy times all round (except for 19-down, the Paris wall clue, which remains stubbornly unsolved — is the answer mersey?).

The Resurrection of the Teachings (for the 7th of August)

DA Teachings is hereby resurrected because of a reference to an ancient myth that demands to be remembered.

3 down: Keenly watching defended case about fine (5-4)

Having never heard of argus-eyed, the cryptic troupe vaingloriously inked in eagle-eyed as the answer while supposing the lack of an explanation had more than likely something to do with DA’s legendary legedermain. A quick squizz at Saturday’s Age after progress came to a stand still revealed our mistake.

Recourse to the iPhone revealed that argus-eyed does indeed mean keenly watching (it’s not the neatest grammatically — the clue should read keenly sighted defended case about fine in my book), and that Argus was a giant possessed of 100 eyes, all of which were engaged with the task of guarding the heifer Io, all of which were later transferred to the peacock’s tail after the giant they belonged to had passed away.

1 across: Offshore sea angers wild sea-duck (9)

Incorrect answers to cross clues prevented us from answering this one, but I thought I should note the special history of merganser here even though I already knew the meaning of the word. In a cryptic crossword from many moons ago, maybe even a DA, I stumbled across merganser as an answer and was duly informed of what it was. My advice: take care to remember merganser, for it will surely reappear in many a crossword to come; just like tango, eerie and rumba, there are too many handy letters for a crossword compiler to ignore this specimen of sea-duck.

The DA Gold (for the 7th of August)

12 across: Spot what makes calmer caller? (6)

I doubt anyone would have deciphered the wordplay before working out the answer to the direct clue, for the wordplay is truly is truly devilish and inspired: what makes calmer caller = me as le (swap me in calmer with le to get caller) = measle = spot.

17 down: Broth distributed about Russian centre, cold?! (7)

Elegantly constructed &lit clue: broth distributed about Russian centre, cold = borht about sc = borscht = broth distributed about Russian centre, cold.

24 down: Handle blow-up (4)

This isn’t the most memorable of clues, but it did get me and my crossword crew thinking DA had mixed up his sexual slang before we realised that this clue is completely clean and we were being completely dirty: blow-up = bonk-up = knob = handle.

23 down: Lift notes, possibly, on model clip sealing short machine-gun (5)

I love a clever direct clue: model clip sealing short machine-gun =  make – e sealing uzi – i (we spent a lot of time thinking this could have been ak47 – 47) = muzak = lift notes, possibly.

9 across: Humbert’s girl skipped it with a youngter’s cackle (3)

A little too easy because of the reference to a very fine piece of literature, but a nicely constructed clue nonetheless: Humbert’s girl skipped it with a = lolita – it – a = lol = a youngster’s cackle.

4 down: Magazines’ text about bullfighter close to Franco (10)

Concatenated words are always the hardest to guess from cross clues, and there a surprising number of synonyms for bullfighter (torero, matador, toreador), all of which made this elegant clue especially difficult to solve: text about bullfighter close to Franco = sms about torero o = storerooms = magazines.

16 across, 13 down: Mark, indulging in S/M, before beer mint (5, 8, 3)

A clue for the kinky: mark, indulging in S/M, before beer = brand spanking new = mint.

DA in August, on the 7th.

It’s looking like it’s going to be a cornucopia of cruciverbalists at Sicilian Orange this morning as I get together with RC, TH and EC to have a go against DA’s best from yesterday.

I’ll post the results here, but feel free to comment before then.

Update: And the cornucopia found trouble, although an amusing amount of trouble.

DA measle gold

Our progress was hampered by two mistakes: 1 down and 3 down (and an unpleasant Sicilian Orange manager). The Saturday Age came to the rescue, and we left Sicilian Orange never to return again and without leaving a tip.

The Gold from the 31st of July

1 down: NZ quickie fooled Aussie counterpart (6)

A fantastic clue which shifts elegantly from one cricketer to another: fooled Aussie counterpart = had Lee = Hadlee = NZ quickie.

The grace of the clue, though, smoothes over a bending of the rules: you have to know the answer to the direct portion of the clue before you can answer the indirect!

9 across: Gives five to Harry Seidler (8)

DA’s legerdemain is all over this one with the graceful anagram indicator and well-concealed direct portion of the clue: five to Harry Seidler = v to deliers = delivers = gives.

3 down: Outspoken southern Spanish population? (9)

A sweet aural clue: outspoken southern Spanish = outspoken Sevillians (Seville is in the south of Spain) = civlians = population.

14 across: Warrant bribe bucks where the buck stops? (6, 6)

Gold because of the brilliant combining of an anagram indicator and humorous direct clue: warrant bribe bucks = rabbit warren = where the buck stops (a male rabbit is a buck).

1 across: Summit bivouac prone to 19-down (minces)? (4, 4)

RC’s superior knowledge of slang solved this cheeky piece of DA devilry: summit bivouac = high camp = prone to minces (to mince is to move or act in a way that implies homosexuality).

24 across: Understood skin to be familiar (2, 4)

In my opinion, the most difficult of the crossword’s clues, but also a very good one: understood skin = fathomed skin = athome = at home = to be familiar.

25 across: Spooner’s two girls make super container? (5, 3)

It would have to be a poor Spoonerism for me not to consider a Spooner clue gold. This one’s reasonable, and the direct portion of the clue is clever to boot: Spooner’s two girls = Spooner’s Kerry Jan = jerry can = super container.

RC came to solve this one by harking back not so long ago to when DA had supreme container = pizza box as part of the clue/answer.

5 across: Baseball great captures us in trap (6)

Because of a Soundgarden song, I had the right baseball great running through my head, but I couldn’t see how cobb could make a word (two words as one are always the hardest to guess). Anyway, here we have baseball great captures us = Cobb captures we = cobweb = trap.

And I shall be forever grateful to that Soundgarden song for introducing me to the madness of Ty Cobb.

So Confused on the 31st of July

12 across: Frequent flyer strikes trouble with online trade (5)

I know the answer is e-tail = online trade; I just don’t know why (although trouble has an e as its tail).

7 down: Top crawler disrupts bent magic (8)

Here, the answer is wizardry = magic. The rest?

4 down: In desert, left for love, make love to actor (6, 6)

Actor = Marlon Brando,  but what goes on with the rest of it?

17 down: Damned thug gives no end of trouble (8)

I was never gonna get this one, and now that I’ve consulted to make sure, I’m still none the wiser on how to begin explaining why ballyhoo is the answer.