The Confusions from DA’s 4th of 2010

Ask your DA questions here.

Update: You fine people have already solved the queries I had (on TOTO, DURRELL) except the following:

21 down: Refuse ball-girl by chance, almost (6)
Like, what’s going on here?

And in other perplexities:

6 down: Jumbo pilot wheeled meat away (6)
Isn’t wheeled a rather crap reversal indicator? Or is there a better way to read this clue?

25 down: Mighty river halved by eccentric explorer (2, 4)
All the great seafaring explorers of the world have had great names: Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Amerigo Vespucci, Hernando de Soto, Marco Polo and, of course, Vasco Da Gama.

Question: dag and eccentric aren’t really synonyms are they?

35 thoughts on “The Confusions from DA’s 4th of 2010

  1. Would love to have the following answered:

    Is 2D a person’s name?
    what role does the word salesman play in 3D?
    what is the answer to 25A

    explanation for how tootoo becomes toto in 15A

    c’mon mic, you’re usually up late.

  2. 2d: Yes
    25a: Hint: Portugese, first to round Cape Hope
    15a: You’re on the wrong track. Hint: who was Terence, and what language did he speak?

  3. 15A thanks get that now.
    Thanks for the hints Ian but I just don’t seem to be on top of the requisite general knowledge.
    25A ok so there’s someone called da gama… what’s the river?
    So is 2D the surname of someone called matt? does popular naturalist refer to Darwin? is the pattern D_R_E_L?

  4. Ah

    so “matt” equals DULL (a variant of matte?), “blue” = ERR, “put up” is a reversal indicator, “inside” is a containment indicator, “by” is a loose word, “popular naturalist”= Gerald DURRELL …

    Fair enough then.

  5. 25A so is an eccentric a dag? that’s new to me. or perhaps mighty is some kind of egocentric reference to the first two letters?

  6. Unhappy with the spelling in 23D: I have seen that spelled two ways (three if you use non-English characters) in the past, neither of them that way. Google suggests it’s very very rare. It stopped me from getting 25A until I came here.

  7. So I’m new to this site, my best for a DA crossword is about ten of them. Don’t get 24A, or 11D, or 15A – (who is Terence)? Or 10A. Help please? Makes me feel better that I could understand ‘Durrell’, but didn’t get it… Thanks

  8. 24A: U + FAN (back) + Raid = game or plucky
    11D: reading backwards NOT with I + A MAG + LAMA
    10A: anagram of messiah + Preaching without reaching

  9. AG

    23D: If I am reading you right, 23D is not Jorn, Joern, Jørn.

    The “!” is selling the dummy on ad lit. Instead, it is doing what it does: exclaiming “Boring!”

    Utzon = Jorn
    Utzon speech? = YAWN
    Boring! = YAWN.

  10. AG:
    23d: “Speech” is a homophone indicator, so the actual spelling of Utzon’s first name (Jørn) is irrelevant. The answer is YAWN.
    Alison: Here’s your explanations: anyone who doesn’t want spoilers look away now.
    15a: Terence was a Roman playwright from the second century BCE, and is therefore one of the earliest sources of Latin. Toto is Latin for everything, as in “in toto”
    24a: United = U, supporter backed = NAF, attack = RAID. Game can mean courageous.
    11d: Union is the definition; Uprising tells us what follows goes bottom to top; Not arresting one is the letters NO(I)T; then A, then periodical = MAG, then priest = LAMA; reverse it all and you get AMALGAMATION.
    10a: Start with MESSIAH, add P (preaching without the reaching), make an anagram (aggravated is the indicator for this) and you get EMPHASIS.
    Oh, and don’t worry about having trouble with DA; he really is the most difficult of the Fairfax setters. The answer is practice, practice, practice. For the sake of one’s ego, though, try the other setters as well. My recollection is that DP on Wednesday gives a good quality, fair crossword, relatively free of annoying quirks, with a good selection of clue types.

  11. Thanks Ian!..and for the encouragement. I can mostly do everyone else in the SMH, but DA (and DS) really stump me. Although I did get ‘yawn’. (Yay me!)

    I had no idea who Terence was!!
    Haven’t even started today’s. Need to be in the right frame of mind.

  12. 21: DEB (Deb(orah), and Deb(utante ball)), + RIS ( chance = risk, almost chance = risk – k)

  13. Also,
    6D: wheeled = turned around. as when a person wheels round to face the opposite direction

    25D: dag and eccentric are not synonyms, but they do no need to be.
    A dag is an example of an eccentric (in the same way the answer “tiger” can be clued by the word “cat”, even though cat and tiger are not synontms. Alternatively, “cat” could be clued by “tiger, say”)

  14. Of course — the French-style spelling of DEBRIS completely lost me, and ball-girl for DEB is quality.

    Thanks mic.

    I’m still not convinced on WHEELED as a reversal indicator. As you wrote in your sentence, WHEELED requires ROUND to mean an about face, whereas WHEELING your bin, for instance, just means to move it from one place to another. Which gets me thinking: WHEELED is perhaps a decent anagram indicator, and a reversal is a kind of anagram.

    On DAG, I should have perhaps consulted the dictionary. I considered a dag to be someone who was kind of uncool — wearing unfashionable clothes from long ago, for instance — and endearingly so, not really an eccentric. The dictionary, though, tells me otherwise.

  15. AS:
    I’m entirely happy with “wheeled” as a reversal in 6D – didn’t give it a second thought at the time – it was one of my first words, on the relatively transparent definition. The highest authority (Chambers) has “to turn around or on an axis” as the first intransitive definition of the verb “wheel”, unassisted by “~round”, “~ around” or “~about” so that’s good enough for me. And Google shows any number of uses without the preposition: eg. Edgar Rice Burroughs, “Then he wheeled and left the guardroom…”.

    I heartily agree re “ballgirl” – best oblique component of the week IMO.

  16. Yes, the “ball-girl” clue was the one inspired moment in this otherwise fairly ho-hum crossword. Like you, AS, I wasn’t entirely happy with dag/eccentric, but mic and the dictionary have come to the rescue. And “wheeled” still doesn’t quite seem right (despite Chambers and Edgar R B).

    Jumbo pilot as a def for “mahout” was pretty good.

    Other points:
    22D: At first I had JORN for this, thinking that the homophone indicator “speech” referred to the following, not the preceding, word. Which meant I was a bit late getting Da Gama!
    24A: Another example of those detestable arcane single-letter abbreviations. The best defence that I could muster was its use in ManU for Manchester United. Can anyone do better? (No Chambers apologias please).
    5D: Promoting=raising? Doesn’t seem quite right to me. Promote = raise to a higher position, not just raise.
    15A: Publius Terentius Afer? (aka Terence). A bit too recondite for me, although the rest of the clue was easy enough.
    13D: Slurring seems a strange anagram indicator for DA to use. He normally disguises these indicators much more skilfully.

  17. Like Alison I’m a DA novice – but getting better every week.

    Can anyone explain 20D? It must be obvious but can’t get my head around it.

  18. CS, it was uncharacteristically uncrptic clue. David Ireland won the miles franklin award three times. and obviously ireland is also a country

  19. Yes, MAHOUT was a nice one.

    20D is very easy — although it was only after Google came to the rescue that I considered it easy.

    David Ireland is an author who’s won the Miles Franklin thrice. I’d never heard of him.

  20. Thanks. I had to give Google a working over this week – surprised I didn’t stumble upon David Ireland.

    I liked NO(T) in 3D – had never seen this used before. Though will never look at clues with NOD, NOW, NOR etc the same.

  21. I’d recommend David Ireland’s “The unknown industrial prisoner”, though it is about an age that seems to have vanished forever. I didn’t like the clue though.

    I don’t understand 14A.

  22. JG:
    14a: Grange = farm, “close to” (as a verb) = seal. So we have F(A L SEAL)ARM.
    RB:
    U for united is quite OK. You mention Chambers only to dismiss it, but like it or not, it’s the most-used authority in crosswords and scrabble. The relevent entry is:
    “U or U. abbrev: unionist; united; universal, (a certificate designating) a film that people of any age are allowed to see; university.” Similar definitions are in Collins and our own Macquarie.
    Raise = promote is also fine. Look up raise in the dictionary and you get “to cause to rise”, “to make higher or greater”, “to advance” and “to elevate”, all without need of a preposition.

  23. Ian: I dislike the over reliance on a single central authority. In the case of single-letter abbreviations, I just don’t like them. I’m not saying they are wrong; I’m not making an authoritative pronouncement. OK, I’m comfortable with the better known ones (t=time, m=male, c=century/about, etc etc), but not the arcane ones. The list in Chambers is huge: have you memorised the list or do you look them up as required? I have two objections: first, I feel it’s a copout on the part of the setter who has a letter left over and seeks the easy way out; second, I like to solve clues using my own wits and brainpower, so the fewer reference sources required, the better. And it seems such a pity to have to consult a reference source for a single letter!

    I specifically wrote “no Chambers apologias please” (knowing full well that Chambers enthusiasts would ignore this request!) because I wanted to see if anyone could come up with a usage better than my unsatisfyingly narrow example (ManU = Manchester United). If someone does, I may change my mind on this particular U=united abbreviation.

    Ian again: I said promote=raise didn’t seem quite right to me. It wasn’t the preposition aspect that bothered me. It was the normal usage, as in promoting a cause (you wouldn’t say “raising a cause”). Or raising the profile of something (you wouldn’t say “promoting the profile”). Or raising an issue (not quite the same as promoting it). If you can think of something which can be raised or promoted (without any change of meaning), I’ll be happy. It’s only a very minor quibble, anyway.

  24. I thought that the U for united was fair, as in United Nations.
    There was certainly enough information there not to need a dictionary.
    The challenge for me is to complete DA without resorting to any aids such as dictionary or google.

  25. Peter, thank you. I’ll buy that. U for United as in UN. That’s better than my example of ManU. Like you, I try to do DA without external help. But I always have a few things to check or confirm afterwards! Such as (this week) Grimaldi, Benjamin Button, Futurama, Ireland.

    Further to my promote=raise query, I’ve relented on this one to a large extent, as I considered this usage: to promote/raise awareness of something.

  26. Still mulling over U=united. Should I roll over on this just because UN is the well known abbreviation for United Nations? To do so would imply that I should accept N as an abbreviation for “nations”. And P for “prevention”, C for “cruelty”, A for “animals”. And I’m not ready for that. Thankfully, our Aussie setters don’t employ as many abbreviations as the UK ones do.

  27. RB:
    The point you raise is a sound one. While happy with U in this case, I occasionally grimace at the use of some single-letter abbreviations.

    Exactly what makes them acceptable? At first it seemed that it hinges on the frequency with which the abbreviation is encountered. I was happy with U at the time – thought of it and used it to get the answer – yet if a setter tried on the equally common C for “club” or “council” I wouldn’t buy it. In this case I think it was helped by the fact that “United” was capped because it started the clue, and maybe that “Man U” isn’t just a normal initialism.

    In the end, it’s a personal thing, just like how close a synonym has to be to be fair (cf. raise/promote), or nontrivial wordplay with indirectly referenced words not present in the clue (a pet peeve of mine).

  28. Abbreviations are OK if they are sufficiently common. U for united crops up in UN, USA, UK, UAR. U for union is often used, and again it mainly appears in combination, as in CFMEU, USSR, ACTU. I can’t think of an instance where either is used independently, but they are hallowed by long use, and sorry RB, they are both in the dictionary. All dictionaries.

    AG, you mention C for club. Check the bridge column in you paper. Here you will find A, C, H and S, all perfectly reasonable.

    I assume your nontrivial wordplay on an indirectly referenced word would be like being given CAT, having to guess OCELOT, and being expected to anagram that. The indirect anagram is an example of what is generally accepted as being against the rules.

  29. OK, Ian, that’s a pretty convincing list of well known abbreviations which use U=United. I feel better about it now. Thank you.

    I’ve always been OK with the Bridge (and Chess) abbreviations. BTW shouldn’t that be D (diamonds), not A.

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