Some Nastiness? (from 4/5th of December)

22 down: Hospital using chunk seen in foot X-ray? (5)

23 across: Dole once fishy at Job Centre (5)

17 down: Loudly loots Nero’s city to find Fu Manchu author (3, 6)

11 across: Timid little dog lost tail to large mouse (5)

10 across: New-age therapy required about $1000 between two (5)

3 down: Dry colours expressed UK poet (3, 6)

25 across: Regularly hold revue near Melbourne’s lead theatre (5)

28 across: Drunken disgrace after nog cocktail? (7)

An aspect of cryptics that I particularly enjoy is that they usually require at least some passing acquaintance with a whole host of language and trivia, high, middle and low of brow in status.

Sometimes, though, that catholicism can be used for nasty ends, and this week, I reckon DA crossed the line into overly recondite.

Now, I don’t think any one of the clues above use words of a too obscure nature, but in concert on a single crossword, that’s some nasty work. I would find it difficult to believe that anybody would have known all of the following words and their intended denotations before having done the crossword: talus, susso, Sax Rohmer, coypu, reiki, ted, odeum, sidecar.

I had no idea who or what susso, Sax Rohmer (making the wordplay aural was particularly nasty for those of us who’ve never heard of him), coypu, odeum and ted (I think this references hay, not beer) denoted. That’s quite a long list for a single crossword, and I don’t think mine would have been abnormally long.

Am I just complaining for no good reason? Should I have had a wider acquaintance with the language and trivia referred to and I’m the dunce? Was this crossword a good reason to resurrect an almost moribund category in DA Nastiness?

A Golden Nasty (from the 21st of August)

18 across: Snow boarders, perhaps, sell wax by drop in supplies (5, 7)

Here, we’ve got sell wax by drop in supplies = vend + wax – x + in serves = seven dwarves = Snow boarders.

Now, this one is gold because of the direct clue, which is gloriously oblique.

Nevertheless, it’s exceptionally nasty for the following three reasons:

  1. Snow White was the boarder of the seven dwarves, and in typical language-bending fashion, one could call the seven dwarves boarders because they are doing the boarding, much like a person who is running is called a runner (hat tip to RB for coming up with that interpretation);
  2. Snow is the first word of the clue, so it’s not immediately apparent that the s in Snow is capitalised because of its referring to a person;
  3. although Prince might not need any other name (he was born Prince Rogers Nelson), no one has ever referred to Snow White as Snow.

DA bullshit 27/3

7 down: Fit user buckled in “tacker”? Not half!
So much for the no bullshit call, then. This one definitely deserves a place in the horseshit hall of fame. I got as far as thinking it must have been an anagram of “fit user”, and that was about it – I was thinking that “not half” was the direct clue, and got nowhere. As it transpires, I wouldn’t have got the answer in a month of Sundays (or Fridays, I guess). TT’s summation that this is a “pun in search of a clue” is spot on – &lit. clues are all very well, but not if they’re, well, bullshit. Fit user = KITE SURFER? Um, no.

DA Nastiness (from the 2nd of January)

1 down: Power-walking leader rejected current races after start (7)

AL pointed out how this is solved, and it most certainly is nasty. The nastiness comes from current races = regatta, an oblique connection yet a connection nonetheless. And with that piece of information, you get walking leader = w, current races = regatta, current races after start = egatta, rejected current races after start = attage and walking leader rejected current races after start = wattage = power.

Technological Nastiness (from the 9th of January)

10 across: Jonathan meets model at Java function (6)

Jonathan = apple, model = T, which gives Jonathan meets model = applet = Java function. Here, the direct clue is practically impossible without an IT background, which I have. How people having nothing to do with IT should know that Java refers to a computer language and that one of it’s functions can be to create applets is beyond me, though.

Absolutely nasty.

Interesting titbits:

  • the cryptic crossword as it appears on The Age and SMH websites is an applet
  • Jonathon Ive is the industrial designer behind many of Apple’s cool hardware designs, so the Jonathan in the clue could conceivably refer to the industrial designer rather than the fruit

Rough Stuff (from the 12th of December)

6 across: Moptops surely warrant a barber (4)

Does this one actually break the rules? RC said it best when explaining how to solve cryptic crosswords to an anonymous someone: “If the first or last word is not part of the direct clue, you’ll read about it the next day in the letters to the editor. Actually, you will never read about it in the letters to the editor the next day because it just won’t happen.”

The answer here is tops surely warrant a barber = swab = mop. Without the cross clues, I would say that this is nigh-on impossible because only a portion of the first word, which, admittedly, is the first portion of the first word, is the direct clue.

Did DA go too far here? I say yes.

The Nasty (7th of November)

1 across: Battleship names distorted (9)

In what is becoming a disturbing trend, DA has been using bits of whole words as instructions (this often happens with words like backdown or, as we will see in the next nastiness example, with desktop, but what DA is starting to do is getting crazy). In this one, battle is the anagram signifier, so that battleship names = misshapen = distorted. If this continues, and starts being a part of more difficult clues, we can pretty much forget about getting anything out.

13 down: It is crazy, perhaps, for desktop to be clean (9)

This is something I’ve never seen before in a cryptic, and I wilt at the thought of its structure being followed in future. Here, crazy = insane, so that it is is put in the word sane, giving it is crazy, perhaps, for desktop = sanitised = to be clean. But what’s mental here is that the synonym for crazy, insane, ends up being an instruction, and that instruction is only partially within the word itself!

Can you imagine how difficult these crosswords will become if DA really starts to let loose with constructions like these?

DA Nastiness (31st October)

5 across: Yet beaming cute carnage (8)

RC again came up with the goods and had this nasty one making sense when he calmly proffered cute = cut ‘e’. Then we had ourselves the answer: yet = but, beaming = cheery, cute = cut ‘e’, which gave yet beaming cute = butchery = carnage.

Even though we got this one out, it’s still mighty nasty.