DA for the 21st/22nd of January, 2011

Running around Melbourne, a new stereo and the thrill of crackling vinyl records meant I completely forgot to set up the discussion for this week’s DA.

Sorry for the delay!

And the early word is that this week’s a cracker, so I apologise doubly.

(No spoilers on this particular thread until Monday)

Update: Jonathan supplies the extra-special goods:

I worked out what I consider a great idea for a theme only tentatively: 1D looked like it should be LITTLE CREATURES, but the explanation wasn’t quite right. That turned out to be indicative: I thought this excellent theme was marred by some clues that made me hesitate in areas that cryptic crosswords shouldn’t make me hesitate.

Early on, I penned in ONE FOAL. Soon after I worked out FISH but not what its young could be (the only feasible option, fry, didn’t fit!) and didn’t put it in. So when I figured 8 down had to be KITTEN WHISKERS and ONE COLT and FISH had to be the answers, I threw a tanty and refused to continue: I don’t do conventional crosswords specifically because I hate coming up with potential answers that prove not to be the final answer!

Unlike some others, I thought the need for Google to lend a helping hand was fine considering the theme (did anyone write in CRIA without electronic aid?), and I wasn’t too concerned about the cross letters not being as helpful as they otherwise would be because the theme itself was an extra clue. For me, it was the ambiguity that marred this one, although the theme I nevertheless consider genius and the crossword worthy of the Para Pantheon.

Further update: DA issues a mea culpa with regard to 1D and the unaccounted for H in MAN-HOUR on his own blog. And I get the impression some words of support with regard to his more experimental cryptic efforts wouldn’t go astray.

29 thoughts on “DA for the 21st/22nd of January, 2011

  1. Yes, this week’s DA is, in my opinion, a rip-snorter. I managed to download it Thursday evening European time, and pottered away on it as I cooked dinner and savoured a couple of glasses of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2006, so my measure of time this week is not cups of coffee as per usual but rather wine glasses – it took two large ones!

  2. Oh, where to start… cannot make sense of 1-down, which seems to hold the key to everything else!

  3. Yes, surely destined for the Pantheon. There’ll be no fence-sitting on this one – bound to cause controversy, but I love it!

  4. Holy Moly that was tough…but great fun! Strange experience, in that even after solving some clues you still have a mountain to climb.

  5. Holy Moly is an understatement!!! Yes, 1-down does hold the key ….

  6. It’s at times like this I wish we (in Sydney) had a week to solve these things. I would have relished this one for days if I had the time but I just cracked the key while heading to party in Manly so then drinks and merriment meant I didn’t get to work it all through. (It would have been rude to sit in the corner with a DA at the party!) And then of course the Saturday paper arrives and the temptation is there is check the answers. I’ll ask some questions in the thread – things that still confuse – but I loved it!

  7. Definitely ‘one with the lot’ – humour, intrigue, d’oh moments, education. I’ve still got a few to go, but it’s certainly pantheon material. Interestingly, I worked out 1D in reverse. Never actually heard of it, but the answer made sense.

  8. I agree, it’s a real ripsnorter. I thought that DA had been soft on us lately, it’s good to get a tough one again (but 4A is unfair to vegetarians!)

  9. Yes, it’s a classic, but when I went looking for the best clues, I couldn’t find many that were real classics in their own right – which is weird when it was such a good theme and so enjoyable overall. And several that I liked have a dodgy element on reflection – like 8d and 29a.
    Anyway, my favourites were 9a, 20a, 24a, 26a, 2d, 4d, 6d and 16d.

  10. Is it likely that 1D is literally the sponsor? No doubt they will get recognition, and possibly business from this crossword. Or are they just in the serendipitous position of having a useful name that DA took a fancy to?

  11. A great one this week – never being quite sure if the cross letters were going to help you or not! Still trying on a couple, but loved 9a, 15a and 6d also.

  12. @Jonathan: of course it is OK (in my opinion, most appropriate) to do the cryptic at a party, you’ll meet much nicer people that way. And wrt Saturday’s paper, be strong, lock it away in a cupboard until DA is completed.

  13. Absolute classic. It’s great when the theme slowly dawns on you without the benefit of the key clue, then you get that a bit later. Liked 13A and 17A especially. Some wordplay queries in other thread.

  14. Tough, but fun. I would drop its rating a notch, though, because the end results in some cases are not really words or phrases in current use, although 31A should be. In fact I shall use it in future.

  15. Right, I think that does it. I can’t do any other crosswords other than DA’s now! Well, it’s not that I can’t actually DO them, it’s just that they are so uninspiring in comparison, so any determined effort is not rewarded with that DA feeling of joy (we’ll have to invent a word for that feeling!). I’ll have to avoid the Saturday paper and just head to the beach (Bondi, where I live, though that Friday party was in Manly) with the Friday DA. I’ll try and be strong Peter – if any other DA freaks are on the Bondi Beach and you see a madman with a strangely benign smile stuck on his face, you’ll know it’s me. And yes, I shall use all these new words from now on!

  16. We’re obviously in the minority, but we don’t think much of this one at all. Too cute by half, and some of it seems rather silly. And 1d doesn’t really apply to some of these “critters” at all.

  17. Jonathon: I know the feeling. DA is the only Australian crossword I still do. Can I recommend http://www.guardian.co.uk/crossword? Lots of similar setters there, but with a much more alert editor. Try Araucaria while we still have him — he’ll be 90 this year.

    This one is similar to the monthly Genius crosswords, though they only appear online. So in a way, this is one of the toughest crosswords in a daily newspaper.

    However, the rogue H in 18d spoilt it for me. I can’t see any explanation for it at all.

  18. Thanks Ian – I’ve had a look, and printed off my first Araucaria (7 Jan 2011) which has special instructions – I’ll give it a go.

    I think, as someone else pointed out, that the H is for historical (it’s Monday so I think I can say that is this thread now?). It’s in my acronym finder, so ‘Labour unit’ is the definition alone.

    I think I’ll have to organise a Sydney DA get-together soon – a support group to help me resist the temptation to look at the solution in the Saturday SMH!

  19. Ian, I know we don’t have a lot of choice down here in Victoria, but there must be other Australian cryptics published in daily papers in NSW – are all of them no good, or are all of them imported?

  20. re 18D, I reckon it’s as Sherlock Holmes said, we have ruled out all other possibilities, so for DA, ‘old-fashioned’ = ‘H’. But I don’t like it. To me, ‘old-fashioned’ means ‘not in fashion’, ‘out-of-date’, and not ‘historical’. My mini-disk player is old-fashioned, but it is only 15 years old. And to me, ‘man-hour’ is an ‘old-fashioned’ term, I’m sure that the HR people have replaced it with something new and shiny.
    I don’t like ‘to keen’ = ‘to mourn’ much either, but since DA has used it before, I’ll let it pass.

  21. Keening is a particularly Irish wail for the dead, happy with that. Not happy with H = historical = old-fashioned. I could find very few citations of H for historical, none in the main dictionaries, and to then go to historical (not quite the same thing) is stretching it even further.

  22. An absolute cracker. The irony was that I was contemplating the theme with a glass of the sponsor’s pale ale (my favourite). Didn’t know juvenile terms for hawk, llama, and pigeon. Thank you DA.

  23. A fantastic puzzle. I really liked it, but thought that people less committed to supporting Australian breweries than I am might have struggled to get 1d and the theme.

    Like GB, I thought the whole theme was great, but without standout great clues. Did like ‘China storm centres?’ (teacups), though. It all dawned upon me when I texted AS asking “Is 4d ‘dog eat dog’ or is 20a ‘spitz’, or do we need a new category of shitfulness to put in ‘pup eat pup'”. I was wrong and DA is a genius.

    I was texting AS for help as I felt Jonothan’s discomfort at doing DA while I was meant to be being sociable. Having been invited down for the weekend to a friend’s house in Birregurra, I spent most of Saturday in silent contemplation, with occasional grunts of satisfaction. No one seemed to mind, though, it allowed them to do the less important tasks of shopping, cooking and washing up without needing to entertain me.

  24. I thought this was a shocker. Not Pantheon, more Stinkathon! So that puts me in a small minority with SGB and SPB. Far too cute, obscure, self-indulgent, arbitrary etc etc. I deliberately avoided this website until now because I was determined to finish the bloody thing myself, and get all the explanations as well. In the end I fell three short. Not really a crossword, more of a torture session. Cross letters not helpful. Answers not actual words or phrases. Eyaseye? Bugcub? Pupa steak? Struth, I’d never even heard of butterfly steak, so getting that one was a miracle. Too many complaints to list here, but here are a few anyway. 10A – let’s see – a four-letter word for a young horse with second letter O? Foal would be more accurate than colt (male), but it could even be pony, given that this is DA. 1D – Obscure brewery, obscure slang (LIT, although I do remember it from a few weeks ago), missing reversal indicator for CELT. At least DA got the anagram right! 3D: Muscle=bodyguard? 6D: crap definition – missing “is” or “it is”. 18D: agree with complainants above about H = old-fashioned.

  25. RB, the minority has grown. Did not enjoy this one at all and like you I fell a few short. Agree that it was too cute by half. I through in the towel about lunch time Saturday and was last heard muttering this is bullshit on my way to the Federal.

    A bad morning turned into a good afternoon when Jimmy Cassidy booted three home, two at juicy odds.

  26. Yes, sorry, I thought this one was ridiculous – eyaseye, pupasteak? How many of you really got those?

  27. Well, actually, I did libbyh! But I persevered for one reason only: so I could bag this “crossword” from a position of strength! Two more gripes to add to the list in my previous post: 23D – the word “off” suits the surface but not the wordplay, an all-too-common DA problem; 17A – seems to be a singular/plural mismatch with gospel/facts.

  28. I can’t make up my mind about this one! I enjoyed the challenge, but think including made up words and phrases is unfair, eg (of course) eyaseye, bugcub, and pupa steak.
    I couldn’t feel the same satisfaction in solving these that I feel at working out an obscure – and real – word.

  29. Just in case there’s any confusion, in my previous post I meant “bag” in the sense of “criticise” or “find fault with”.

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