The DA on the 24th

This week, I’m expecting a reference to Umberto Eco in the crossword.

I’ve been reading Foucalt’s Pendulum, which I’m both enjoying and loathing — many sections are completely unreadable, others hilariously brilliant — and the accounts of hidden meaning that make up the book demand that the Kabbalistic practices that we engage in this week must reveal obscured truths.

Update: Awesomeness.


This week’s is another fantastic example of DA’s mastery of the cryptic form, one which extends his run of crosswords involving a unique theme uniquely structured. Happily too, there was a reference to Jewish exegetes so that my prognostications could be proven correct and I can now revel in revealing secret truths.

Happily too, Sunday heralded the coming together of the holy trinity, RC, TH and I. We hit Embassy 97 because Il Fornaio was too busy. Does everyone else associate cryptic crosswords with coffee and cafes?

35 thoughts on “The DA on the 24th

  1. Interesting set-up today. That’s interesting, hmmmm. Not convinced DA wasn’t cheating a bit by including a whole extra group of clues.

    I know DA is everything goes, but, well, you know…

    As with all the themed puzzles, once you’re onto the theme, lots of clues become easy.

    Still there were some nice clues: 27A, 6D, 8D.

    And a couple of puzzlers: 26A, 29A.

  2. I second JG

    while this one easier than most DA’s, i think EVERY clue turned out to be gold
    except 22A (am i missing something here, or was this not much of a cryptic clue?)
    and 25D (though i think i might not quite get the cryptic element of the clue)

  3. 22A: Truly, Madly and Deeply is a firm of taxidermists.

    25D: Assumed LICIT was the well behaved end of ILLICIT.

  4. Tony,

    22A: there are taxidermist firms??? that sound like demented law firms? Can i open a taxidermist firm called “Pelts, Felts and Leather Belts?”
    all i got is that truly madly and deeply are all adverbs, and perhaps different parts of speech form a taxonomy of language. i don’t get a double meaning to justify the “?” though

    25D: i’m assuming the same, but that makes the clue merely mediocre when all the others are brilliant, so i’m still hoping i’m missing something

  5. Gee, hubris well sunk with this bugger. Footnote/themed clues no problem but the variety of grape? Frontignac (? don’t know that’s correct) Front = arrive, like front up, but ‘to stick back’ remains for ‘cangi’ Must be going wrong somewhere.

  6. Martin, yeah, that was the very last clue i solved. i inferred from the down clues, front + “cane”back, checked google and was vindicated

  7. Wow! a cryptic with “footnotes”. I think DA has taken things up a notch.A truly , madly , deeply enjoyable puzzle this week.(Has he been reading too many encyclopedias?) Rating A (gold), terrific stuff.

  8. MF, 22A refers to the film ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply”. Wikipedia notes “The title comes from a word game played by the main characters, in which they challenge each other to by turns repeat and add to a series of adverbs describing the depths of their mutual affection” and it was “described as ‘Ghost for people who can do crosswords'”.
    So for me, that makes it a ripper clue

  9. MF

    I was being silly with the taxidermists. I really did know that Truly, Madly, Deeply is a film about a class of adverbs. Taxonomically speaking.


    You’re probably right about that. On face value, the clue is barely cryptic – the answer is obviously ADVERBS. As such, it was one of the last answers I entered because I assumed there must be something else to it.

  10. A very enjoyable DA – took a long time to get going, but agree with TT that once you’ve twigged the theme, it gets a bit easier. Lots of “clever” stuff in there.

  11. Phew! DA at his best! Well, most of the time, anyway. I thought it was tougher than the average DA. Many very good clues. I agree with TT about the best – 6D, 8D (“perhaps ready for sleep?”=bed was questionable, but the rest of the clue was very clever), and 27A.

    I got 5D last of all (partly because I had MING LED instead of TANG LED for 12A). Even then, I had to puzzle a while before the well-hidden explanation for 5D became apparent.

    TT, your first comment seems like you want an explanation of 26A, 29A. Is this the case?

    7D: I’ve got NICOLAI = I COLA (a soft drink) inside NI (Belfast). I presume NI=Northern Ireland. As a clue for Belfast, it’s poor, IMO.

    25D: At first I had (L)AWFUL as the answer. No wonder I struggled with that bottom right-hand corner! I actually think my answer is better than the right one. For my money, obscene=illicit stinks, whereas in my answer, obscene=awful is merely slightly malodorous.

  12. RB, yeah, that was questionable. though “perhaps ready for sleep” is to be IN bed. so i spent a while searching for B _ _ E D, or B E _ _ D. i thought being IN bed would have been a very DA clue.

  13. I don’t have a problem with 25D, an obscene article is an illicit (“unlawful, forbidden” in my dictionary) article.
    I particularly liked the 13A, 12A, 20A combination, the A-side = aside was very nice.

  14. MF, yes, “perhaps ready for sleep” leads one more to “in bed” or “abed” rather than just “bed”.

    JG, yes, the 13A,12A, 20A combo was good. And in 20A it took me a while to realise the significance of A-side (as opposed to the B-side). Re 25D, my Shorter Oxford has quite different defininitions for obscene (offensive to modesty or decency, expressing or suggesting lewd thoughts, disgusting etc) andillicit (not authorized or allowed,….unlawful, forbidden etc). Yes, it is true that if something is obscene it’s probably also illicit, but that doesn’t mean the words are synonyms in any way.

  15. Mmmm. That “explicit” lead was promising at first, but I can’t find much of substance to back it up. Nothing in the Shorter Oxford, or the (more modern) Penguin Compact dictionary. Even Google could only come up with “describing or portraying nudity or sexual activity in graphic detail” or “very specific, clear, or detailed; containing material (e.g. language or film footage) that might be deemed offensive or graphic”. Even the offensiveness referred to in that last definition is only “deemed”. So, as a synonym for obscene, I reckon explicit is nearly as weak as illicit. I wonder which one DA had in mind? Or is there another explanation?

  16. HS, just seen your last post now. I agree explicit is closer than illicit, and I guess I’d be nitpicking to whinge any more.

  17. RB

    Yep, I can’t work out 26A, 29A. They were two of the first answers I got, but I only entered them under the Well, They Must Be Right rule.

    How does “offending sweet” give KIN and “seeing puzzle with no simple closure in sight” give TASER?

    I’m with you on illicit/explicit. I don’t like either, either.

  18. Meanwhile.


    Is “get back” supposed to equal REVENGE?

    That seems like a mismatch of tense. Or is DA trying “to action” management speak into his crossies?

  19. TT, 26A: sweet=KIND. With the “end off”, it becomes KIN.
    29A: puzzle=TEASER, simple closure = E.

  20. Re 19D: I too was initially repulsed by the use of revenge as a verb, but I found it in the Shorter Oxford as a verb, so I put away my outrage.

  21. MF, et al.

    Isn’t 22A just another example of a “cryptic definition” type,
    as hinted at by the ? terminating the clue; the film reference
    tarts up the surface reading nicely?

    The cryptic definition is the one clue type that raises questions here
    whenever one occurs. It seems that a few/some/many just don’t like them.

    My dislikes were 9A David Foster Wallace (too obscure for me w/o Google!),
    11A Rangoon (went blah blah blah = ran go on? hmmmph.), and 4A Frontenac
    (which turns out to be a new-since-1995 American variety named after a town
    that looks like a misspelling of Frontignac, a Proper grape variety ;-) ;-).

    I thought 1A and (in particular) 8D and 14D were gold.

    And I don’t understand 5D … why does “now and then coach 20” = octet?


  22. M(S)F,

    after learning about the film, i have no more problems with 22A
    5D: 20 = twenty, every second letter of ‘coach twenty’ = octet

    i almost like 25D just fine now if using explicit, rather than illicit. while explicit and obscene are by no means synonymous, they are closely enough related for me to be satisfied.

    if i had any problem with 19D, it was that “the” letter was morphed, not “a” letter. why the definite article? was there an obvious letter in 2D that was to be changed?

    while I often learn a few words from a cryptic crossword, this time i also learnt that joe cocker did a cover of one of my favourite box tops songs (i won’t know how i feel about this until i hear the cover in question)

  23. MF

    My Letter is the reverse of your Letter.

    Despite the Box Top’s version being the original, I knew about Cocker’s Letter (from Cocker Happy) well before the Box Top’s Letter.

    Although I now prefer Alex Chilton’s work to Joe Cocker’s.

  24. I managed to solve all but one this week. 27A brought me undone.

    27A Key ingredient of West End success. Six in this case (11)

    The answer is S?P?R?G?I?T if my cross clue solutions are correct. I can’t think of anything with that combination of letters. I will trawl the comments for enlightenment.

  25. Oooooh. Now I see. I had “legit” short for “legitimate”, instead of the correct solution LICIT, thinking that perhaps “leg it” was a piece of slang I hadn’t heard of, similar to “get a leg over” meaning sexual intercourse…

    So then the answer to 27A, SUPERSCRIPT is clear and absolutely brilliant! Actually, there were many, many brilliant and enjoyable clues in this DA I thought.

    I have a few confusions though. I’ll start off with this one:

    29A It causes a shock, seeing puzzle with no simple closure in sight

    Very apt description of many DA clues! Answer = TASER, and the direct clue “it causes a shock” is clear, but how does the wordplay work?

  26. I only knew of the Al Green version of The Letter, which is an absolute corker although I have nothing else to compare it to, and had no idea Joe Cocker sang a version.

    That DA could put DAVID FOSTER WALLACE into the crossword is just wonderful (for anyone who might not know, Wallace wrote fiction with copious amounts of footnotes, and often these footnotes had their own footnotes).

  27. I was pleased to have gotten David Foster Wallace purely from the wordplay and cross-clues, never having heard of him. A friend confirmed the footnotes connection.

  28. Dear AS,
    I would love to associate the Friday cryptic with long leisurely afternoons in cosy cafes with good company, but unfortunatly, to me they are squeezed in between a round at the supermarket, kiddies sporting committments and domestic duties. Welcome to the ‘burbs!
    They do add a certain sparkle to the weekend, though. I wish I’d heard of David Foster Wallace, would have made this crossword make more sense.

  29. Further on 25D (obscene = explicit, maybe) I think that the most common usage of obscene these days is in the sense ‘the amount paid to Sol was obscene’, that is, deeply offensive to community standards, and the “old’ meaning of obscene has been replaced by ‘pornographic’. If this is so, then 25D is very suss.

  30. I’m fine with 25D. There are countless instances in cryptics where you’re meant to take the archaic sense of a word instead of the current, so another one is not going to bother me, especially in a DA.

    JD, have you tried out cryptic crosswords with your kids? Kids usually invent their own slang for talking amongst themselves, so I’m assuming yours would be pretty good at moving between the senses of words, even if many of the words’ senses they might not be aware of.

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