The Bullshit of DA’s Third of the Year

6 down: Fund inquiries for how today’s theme translates to diehards? (5, 5)
This is very almost a great clue: how today’s theme translates to diehards = means tests = fund inquiries.

The problem: a means test isn’t really a fund inquiry as far as I can tell. I reckon funds inquiries might have been OK, but fund inquiries is not right for mine.

11 across: A virtual game with 50/50 participation? (3-7)
It’s rather inelegant: a virtual game with 50/50 participation = a virtual rounders with ll = a rounder with ll = all-rounder = cricket theme.

What’s not quite right: I don’t think the clue does enough to explain how the ll can appear between a and rounder.

22 across: Caught yours truly (6)
It’s cheeky and presumptuous and obscure: caught yours truly = c Astle (DA’s surname) = castle (the wickets apparently, but not in Chambers at least) = cricket theme.

24 across: Bond writer christened Murray (4)
I had never heard of the author, but the triple definition just breaks the rules unnecessarily: writer christened Murray = Bail = bond = cricket theme.

18 down: Cloud over (zero degrees), obscuring face of watch instrument (8)
Sometimes DA stretches things too far: cloud over (zero degrees) obscuring face of watch = duolc – o + timer – t = dulcimer = instrument.

The problem: the zero degrees. To make that mean get rid of an o is quite a stretch, especially when you consider zero degrees would be represented as two zeroes, or 0°.

4 down: Sounds mentally focus lean rider (7)
Another almost great clue: sounds mentally focus lean = sounds psych list = cyclist = rider.

My problem: even though Chambers only says “usu with up” and not always with up, to mentally focus is to psych up, not to psych.

Update: RB’s moment of divine inspiration, as described in the comments, makes 4 down no longer bullshit but gold!

13 thoughts on “The Bullshit of DA’s Third of the Year

  1. 11a: “participation” is a fine containment indicator to me
    18d: degrees are o’s, so zero means none of them. seems fine to me
    4d: according to my dictionary, to mentally focus is to “psych”, not “psych up”, it is just that psych takes a preposition when used in a full sentence

  2. 11A: AS, I’m not sure whether you’re objecting to the use of “participation” per se, or whether you think it doesn’t adequately indicate precisely where the “ll” should be positioned. My feeling is that, as a containment indicator, it’s not great, but it’ll do. And containment indicators don’t have to specify the exact location of the containee.

    I do agree that the clue is inelegant, and certainly lacks inspiration, but overall it’s not really Bullshit material.

    18D: AS, I too thought DA stretched things a bit far with this clue. And I too didn’t like the “zero degrees” thing, but it’s unfair to say it must be interpreted as two zeroes or 0º. I almost agree with mic. I’d say “degrees” => the º symbol, which is sort of like an “o”, so then we have “zero o”, and this can be interpreted as an instruction to remove the “o”. The trouble is it’s a bit tortuous, as is the rest of the clue. And when you then add in the fact that the instrument is the little-known dulcimer, it’s a very tough clue. But not quite Bullshit, in my book.

    22A: Yes, I’ve heard CASTLE used a few times to mean the stumps, but it is rather esoteric. My first reaction was that, with only 14 across clues and hundreds of cricket terms to choose from, surely you wouldn’t waste one of them on a rarely used term that is not ordinarily associated with cricket. But the even bigger fault with this clue is the use DA’s surname. Wantonly recondite and definitely Bullshit.

    Overall, although I found this crossword hugely disappointing, there wasn’t that much Bullshit.

  3. Re 24a: when we see this sort of thing in the Guardian, which must be here DA got the idea, the instructions usually read “all across clues are of a kind, and may go otherwise undefined.” That would have let him have his tripe clue.
    22a: not fair to the average, non-obsessive punter to put his actual name in.
    5d: Monotone is a noun, but the clue seems to ask for an adjective!

  4. re 5D, I didn’t like it because ‘tedious’ is an adjective and ‘monotone’ is usually a noun, but my dictionary says it can be used as an adjective: “without change of pitch”. Hard to “use it in a sentence”, I suppose something like “this black box produces a monotone signal”.
    Overall, I found it disappointing. Two peeves that haven’t been mentioned: 24A BAIL – surely this should be BAILS, I have never heard the singular used (same as ‘pliers’ is never ‘plier’) and 23A, THIRD MAN, the film is The Third Man, or, if you like, Harry Lime was the third man carrying the body.

  5. Re 24A: Ian, did you mean “tripe” or “triple”? Could be either, I suppose!
    JG, I agree “bails” are usually referred to in the plural. But not always: even when a bail (there I’ve said it) is dislodged, the commentator will usually say “one of the bails”.

    Re 5D: Ian and JG – are you aware AS nominated this clue for Gold?!

  6. On 11A, “participation” would be a fine containment indicator if LL was being contained in a word. What I didn’t like is that it wasn’t being contained but was between two words.

    22A: I’m happy for it to be an obscure piece of cricketing terminology, and I’m happy to have the surname included mostly because it’s cheeky, but both in the same clue is a very nasty combination indeed.

    On 24A, I’m with RB.

    On 18D, I don’t like “zero x” to mean take all instances of letter x out because zero is not a verb nor an expression we’d say. We might say “blog, no g” for instance, but never “blog, zero g”.

    On 4D, how a word is used in a sentence should not be ignored, otherwise “walked” would be the synonym for “amble”. Hence, I reckon the synonym for “mentally focus” has to be “psych up”.

    On 5D, I’m happy with monotone as an adjective, as in “his monotone voice bored me” or “his tedious voice bored me”.

  7. On 5D, I don’t like it because I don’t regard ‘tedious’ and ‘monotone’ as even being close to synonymous.
    I’m with AS on ‘zero is not a verb’.

  8. Re 11A: Good point, AS. It’s more an LL sandwich than LL participation.

    Re 18D: If I were to attempt to defend this “zero degrees” thing, I’d say there’s an implied preceding “with”. So it’s really “with zero degrees”. No? Thought not!

    Re 4D: It’s just occurred to me that “cyc” is a palindrome.
    So “sounds mentally focus” => “sounds psych up” => “cyc up” => “cyc”.

  9. Wow — that makes 4D super brilliant.

    I wonder if DA did that deliberately — I reckon he did, which is awesome.

    That clue is no longer bullshit and officially gold!

  10. 11A: i think you’re being a bit harsh. while the fact that LL goes between two spearate words means that a containment indicator was not necesssary (the LL part of the clue could have just been placed in the appropriate place of the clue, but wasn’t to aid the surface reading), i don’t think it devalidates the use of a containment indicator

    4D: AS, i think your walked/amble example is a false analogy. concerns of parts of speech are internal to the word, where as use in a sentence is external

    I swear, you guys get more and more harsh on the bullshit category every week. I can only assume that as your love of DA increases, you hold him up to a higher and higher standard

  11. 4D: the preposition is hugely important. “I want to go” is very different to “I want to go off”. The fact that “go” and “off” are written as separate words is inconsequential because grammatically or functionally they’re a single entity, in this case “go off”.

    Now, with regard to “psych”, I’ve conceded the point that the dictionary states that only usually is it followed with “up”. I reckon that’s crap because if I ever heard anyone say “I have to psych” rather than “I have to psych up”, I would assume that the person speaking is not a native English speaker. It’s me against the dictionary, and I’m happy to be ridiculed for going against the dictionary.

    Not sure what you mean about parts of speech being internal to the word because the only time you can know that a word, like “smoking” for instance, is a verb or an adjective is in a sentence, i.e. “The smoking gun” and “I am smoking”.

    I think our harshness on DA changes week by week depending on collective mood. This week’s DA put us in a foul mood and there was more nitpicking.

  12. Her’s my take on this Bullshit category: it shouldn’t be taken too seriously! It’s just a vehicle for further discussion. It’s devised by AS (I think) and so is a personal judgement, which we all then tear apart.

    I often think things are too readily put into this category. And likewise with the Gold category. But it makes for more interest so I’m all for it.

    Apart from this week’s (which is a one-off, I hope), there hasn’t been an increase in the BS category. Usually there are just one or two entries. And sometimes none. But maybe what you’ve noticed, mic, is a general increase in whingeing. And I reckon that’s because DA has been below par every week since the brilliant Noel crossword last month. We know DA is capable of much better than this week’s effort, and judge him accordingly.

    Re 4D: My observation that “cyc up” = “cyc” was intended to raise an alternative explanation. On balance, I think it’s unlikely this is what DA intended. If I’m wrong then this puts the clue in a category I’ve never seen before: usually an indicator such as “up” appears in the clue itself; occasionally it will appear in the answer; but in this case it would appear in neither clue nor answer!

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