DA in August, on the 7th.

It’s looking like it’s going to be a cornucopia of cruciverbalists at Sicilian Orange this morning as I get together with RC, TH and EC to have a go against DA’s best from yesterday.

I’ll post the results here, but feel free to comment before then.

Update: And the cornucopia found trouble, although an amusing amount of trouble.

DA measle gold

Our progress was hampered by two mistakes: 1 down and 3 down (and an unpleasant Sicilian Orange manager). The Saturday Age came to the rescue, and we left Sicilian Orange never to return again and without leaving a tip.

33 thoughts on “DA in August, on the 7th.

  1. another goodie. I thought, from DA this week. Lots of entertainment and some cleverness, of course. Standouts for me were 9A and 14D and candidates for gold were 12A and 4D.

  2. Yes I quite enjoyed 9A and 4D, and 16A, 13D amusing. Quite a few connecting Ys and even a Z.

  3. I liked 10A and 17D.

    I didn’t like (or require enlightenment for):
    29A: This just doesn’t seem cryptic at all to me.

    3D: The cryptic analysis seems to be:
    defended case = argued
    fine = yes
    Leaving aside fine=yes (which I’m sure will not meet with universal approval out there), my main objection is that “about” seems to be performing two functions: it’s the reversal indicator to turn yes into sey, and it’s the containment indicator for sey inside argued.

    7D: Out = snoring? Hmmm. Out = sleeping, I’d accept. But snoring? It seems the question mark is asking for a bit more poetic licence than usual!

    26D: Is the answer men? I get the cryptic bit (mend without its tail), but the direct definition is a mystery to me.

    If I have correctly understood last week’s discussion on “understood skin”, then I reckon we have another three very similar cases this week: 20A (had barrels), 2D (truly paring tax), and 26D (fix detail).

  4. Enjoyed 16A, 13D, but had trouble with a few others, such as 1D, which I had as gold top – hence the trouble with a few others!, and still don’t understand 4D; or 26D.

  5. I see you have “measle” for 12A Spot what makes calmer caller?
    Is that the official answer? If so, what’s the derivation?

  6. RB:
    I wonder if 29A includes an indirect rugby union reference “in the pack” as well as the direct one to secessionist?
    3D: I agree
    26D: The answer is indeed “men”. Apparently (furniture) removal is not a task for womenfolk …

    4D: Magazines is the direct clue. Text = SMS. Bullfighter = TORERO. And close to Franco = O. Hence S TORERO O MS

    12A: I’m hoping AL can explain this one …

  7. 12A is nice: to make ‘calMEr’ into ‘calLEr’, you have ‘ME’ AS ‘LE’.

  8. haiku:
    29A: BREAKAWAY. Yes, I think you’re right about the rugby union reference. (For non rugby aficionados, breakaway or flanker is no. 6 or no. 7 in the scrum or pack). The other thing it could refer to is cycling, maybe? But I prefer the rugby explanation.

    26D: MEN. You cannot be serious. Can you? DA guilty of sexism? I have an alternative explanation – could it be a reference to “men” (or pieces) in a board game such as chess or draughts? I don’t particularly like this explanation either, because surely the “men” are “movees”, not “movers”.

  9. I initially thought of cycling – but the breakaway riders are (by definition) not in the peleton!

    I agree Movers = Men seems a pretty unsatisfactory clue. However, there is a removal firm called “Two Men and a Truck”, and indeed nearly all of my moving experiences have tended to have blokes showing up for the task …

    JG: thanks – that is quite clever

  10. Actually, most of my moving experiences have been with women! But that’s another story. Back to 26D: I’ve just googled “two men and a truck” – maybe that’s DA’s intended explanation. Don’t like it. A candidate for bullshit IMO.

  11. Thanks, JG. Very neat.

    Next question. I assume 1A = morganser = sea-duck.. But how?
    “Offshore sea angers wild sea-duck” … I see the “ganser” from “angers wild”,
    but how does “offshore sea” map to “mor”. Something to do with the Sea of

  12. I believe it’s merganser, not morganser. You can probably figure it out now.

  13. Re. questionable clues …

    RB: I, too, was unconvinced by “fine” for “yes” in 3D. But 29A seems fine to me, especially once the rugby reference was explained. And yes, I annotated my grid with “X”s for 20A (re. “had barrels”); 2D (re. “truly paring tax”); and 26D (for the “movers” =? “men”, principally).

    LJ, I assume 1D = milk top, but remain uncertain that “milk” is a synonym for “mine”.

    On the plus side, the word play of 12A (“me as le”) is clever, and 11A “cold wine turned in vessel” = canister was neat.

  14. I mis-wrote:
    > LJ, I assume 1D = milk top, but remain uncertain that “milk” is a synonym for “mine”.

    I mean “I assume 1D = milk cap”, I swear!

    (Drats. Does WordPress have an ‘edit comment’ option?)

  15. I was quite happy with movers = men, when understood as being pieces in a boardgame, but maybe i’m out of line

    6D: Can someone explain this one to me? i can’t account for the ‘r’

  16. re 26D, could it be that it is meant as m over s, that is m/s, which is rarely used as an abbreviation for messrs = men?
    Can someone explain 10A for me?

  17. JG: your m/s explanation is quite ingenious. We’ve had three possible explanations now for movers=men. I wonder which one(s) DA had in mind? DA, are you there?

  18. Played with friends today and most became clear. Argus-eyed quite obscure though Brewer’s coughed it up. yes = fine but about is good for across clues whereas inverted (or synomyn) is good for down clues. When I say ‘Ghost Writer’ I do not say ‘goes triter’ but it was got none the less. some in the crowd suggested DA has a speech impediment. I liked Retsina in reverse but thought Barrels was a poor anagram word because it just means fast. Barrels down the track.

  19. 29A: according to my oxford english dictionary, a breakaway can be “Austral./NZ a stampede of animals, typically at the sight or smell of water”. pack = stampede

    3D: so does anyone have an explanation for RB’s question, the seeming double use of “about”? this is the one thing i’m struggling with

  20. Martin, I think the reason DA chose barrel as an anagram indicator was because of donkey kong, thus to barrel is to throw a barrel at an italian plumber, which has enough connotations of violence to work as an anagram indicator
    btw, there is also such thing as barrel distortion, but i don’t know if it can be referred to as barrel alone

  21. Over at fifteensquared, the UK counterpart of this fine blog, a compiler will now and then chip in. And this week, I follow suit.

    First to say what a smart forum you have running – a great chance for me (and all setters) to see what sort of clues delight, and which don’t. And evolve accordingly.

    Second, to ‘tackle’ those irksome clue queries:

    men = movers [as in board games]

    milk = mine [as in exploit]

    barrel = tackle [football slang]

    RB is right. THe ARGUSEYED clue carries a surplus container signpost, however surface sense unfortunately dictated the inclusion of both. As I’d opted for legalese, I’d also construed YES as FINE, which clearly hasn’t pleased the entire jury.

    While I won’t always put in tuppence – I feel this space belongs to the valiant solver – I’ll always wander by, just to see if the week’s work is mainly gilt, or guilt-ridden! Thanks as always for the insights and feedback.

  22. Regarding “breakaway”.

    DA, who is from Sydney, is most probably talking about rugby union where the “breakaway” breaks away from the “pack”.

    But also. My smarter half points out that “breakaway” is also an old Aussie farming term where sheep “breakaway” from the “pack”.

    The TV of the time covered this phenomenon in full colour: Break Away.

  23. Oh dear! My initial excitement at seing an entry from DA Himself was tempered somewhat by my inability to understand this bit:
    “The ARGUSEYED clue carries a surplus container signpost, however surface sense unfortunately dictated the inclusion of both”.

    My objection (as posted a couple of days ago) concerned not a surplus signpost but one too few! This is what I wrote:
    “my main objection is that “about” seems to be performing two functions: it’s the reversal indicator to turn yes into sey, and it’s the containment indicator for sey inside argued”.

    BTW, just in case (pun not intended) someone points out the word “case” in the clue, let me state my position. As I said in my post a couple of days ago, I’m assuming “defended case” = “argued”, so I believe “case” is NOT a containment indicator. Am I right?

    I suppose it’s too much to hope for two DA visitations in the same week!?

  24. Oh dear from me too! I was convinced that my solution to 26D (see above) was correct because it was cryptic, obscure and relied on almost archaic usage – I think ‘messrs’ went out with typewriters. I didn’t like ‘movers’ as boardgame pieces, I thought ‘fix detailed pieces’ would be a better clue. But sometimes, as the man says, a cigar is just a cigar, and a mover is just a boardgame ‘man’.

  25. What surplus signpost? You’re quite right RB…to a point. Thanks for being argus-eyed. Here’s how it works:

    Keenly watching [definition] defended [ARGUED] case [to enclose] about [reverse] fine [YES].

    So ‘about’ here is not a container signpost, but a signal to reverse, as has appeared in Times and Guardian puzzles before now. ‘Around’ can be just as dual-serving. So too ‘without’ – container signpost, or a command to delete. Buggers all three, and a reason we love this evasive artform.

  26. Ah! Many thanks, DA. As I said earlier, I was aware that “case” just might be the containment indicator, but I rejected that line of thought as I felt that “defended” = “argued” was not as good as “defended case” = “argued”. So I used your containment indicator for a different purpose! I should have realised that cryptic integrity is more important than synonym accuracy!

  27. I’m giving up with 4 to go: 1A, 11A, 12A AND 4D. Looking at comments now…

  28. I am fairly content with my effort this week. I had pencilled in wrong answers for 1D (gold top) and 3D (eagle-eyed) without fully understanding how they worked, always a dangerous thing to do.

    Nevertheless, I still would have had no hope in completing the thing. 1A (merganser) and 3D (Argus-eyed) were DA Teachings for me, and despite listing 20 or so types of wines I never stumbled on “retsina” (although I knew it existed).

    4D was gettable but that alternate meaning of magazine just eluded me. And 12A was delightful but fiendish. Has DA ever done that before, where the answer is actually a wordplay instruction or clue type? I have a feeling I have seen it but can’t recall when.

    23D gave me the most pleasure, especially the definition “lift notes” (= MUZAK)…

  29. We had eagle-eyed for 3 down as well, which certainly caused some problems with other clues.

    I remember learning about a merganser because of another cryptic crossword I did in the past (not sure if it was a DA, though). Judging by the letters, it’s certainly seems to be a word to get you out of a spot of bother when constructing a crossword.

  30. NC: You ask if “DA has ever done that before, where the answer is actually a wordplay instruction or clue type”. My recollection is that he’s done it at least a couple of times in the last year or so, but I can’t quote any right now.

    But I can remember a non-DA clue/answer of this type. It has been recorded somewhere in this blog – it has the reputation of being the most difficult clue ever!
    Clue: E (13)
    Answer: Senselessness

  31. RB, one example from a DA in the last few months is “Film genre makes piracy fleet” = ‘noir’: piracy with no ir = pacy = fleet, and another turned ‘limit’ into ‘licit’ using M = ten times C.
    You’re right about ‘the most difficult clue ever’! I wonder if there are similar clues for every letter?

  32. Ah yes! Piracy with no ir! That was an excellent clue (which I didn’t solve, unfortunately). It was very recent – 10th July in fact. And as Martin pointed out: “this is one of those where the solution cryptically gives the clue”.

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