The Confusion Theme (18th December)

Any issues? Post here to your heart’s content.

Update: A fair bit I got confused about:

7 down: An ecclesiast over-springy? (6)
No clue.

21 down: March producer books do outside (6)

8 across: Sort of pudding twinkling in surrounding ocean (8)
From the distribution of the letters I worked out that this was semolina. What perplexed me was why does sort of pudding = semolina and why does twinkling = molin?

18 down: Creeper captured sheila’s heart with zest (8)
I’m willing to cut DA some slack on lovelily given the theme. What I need, though, is an explanation.

12 across: Girl’s classified paper (6)
I get this one, but isn’t girl = her a bit wrong?

13 down: Prominent Turk report on river menace (5, 5)
Why does prominent = boom, and why is that written out after aga? Inquiring minds wish to know.

9 across: Does it protect your online identity? (6)
Does this clue actually work? I’m assuming this means does it protect = enamel, but that should be it protects. And is e-name even a word?

6 down: Public survey mounted during opening gains zero (6, 4)
I don’t really understand how gallup poll can be made out of that.

46 thoughts on “The Confusion Theme (18th December)

  1. Got the theme nice and early, but having a few problems, especially with the SE corner. If European is the definition part of the clue for 24D there aren’t many 4-letter words that fit. Pole, Balt, Lett, Slav; can’t think of any more.

  2. My last five were three in the SE corner (24A, 26A, 24D) and two in the SW corner 25A, 21D).

    Seems a bit churlish to complain after such a superb crossword, but here goes anyway:
    14A: part of the wordplay equates “next” or “next to” with “up”. It just doesn’t quite work. Not yet, anyway.
    25A: “ort(s)” was a new word for me, but it’s “tramp” = “stroll” that seems a bit of a stretch. If used as verbs, it doesn’t seem quite right; if nouns, the best I can find is an obsolete reference to “stroll” = “vagabond”. So I guess this is the explanation, unless someone has a better one.
    18D: The clue is elegant, but the answer, as a word in its own right, is not. OK it’s in the dictionary, but like “uglily” a few weeks ago, it seems a pity that such a word finds its way into this crossword masterpiece.

  3. RB

    14A: To me “who’s up” = “who’s next”. But not Who By Numbers or Who are You?

  4. TT, sorry, I didn’t understand your reference to Who By Numbers or Who are You.

    As for “who’s up” = “who’s next”, I did consider this but rejected it on the grounds that, in a queue-type situation (doctor’s waiting room, deli counter, auditioning for a role etc), you might say “who’s next?” or “who’s up next?”, but not just “who’s up?” It doesn’t seem quite right, but maybe that’s just me?

  5. RB

    I hear “who’s up” enough for me to say it’s a fair clue, but I concede that it’s much more common in American vernacular.

    Who’s Next, Who By Numbers and Who Are You? are albums by The Who.

  6. RB: re 25A – “tramping” is the Kiwi term for bushwalking; and can cover anything from a 10-day hike through wilderness (which is the sense I’d normally use it for) to a short stroll (the sense in which it’s used here).

  7. 11A: Based on “UK” and “impresario” (i.e. Leo Bloom from The Producers, which had a run here recently) B’s initial suggestion was LUKA BLOOM and it took me ages to work out why that was wrong.

  8. Loved this week’s. Liked the theme.
    Just two I can’t work out…

    21D: I think this is a US author (hence producer of books) – but can’t work out the ‘March’ or ‘do outside’ bit…?
    19D: is this a weird spelling of a word meaning symbolism?

  9. Duh! Straight after posting I saw an ad for iPhones and the answer to 24D was blindingly clear. Hadn’t thought that far north.

  10. 21A Yes you are on track. ‘March’ are the protagonists. Do = Act
    19D. No, think more about calculated.

  11. Thanks TT – if it’s American vernacular, maybe that’s why I’m not familiar with it. (Nor with The Who’s oeuvre).

    haiku – I am familiar with tramping(NZ) = bushwalking(Aus) = hiking(UK), but I considered that to be much too long, energetic and purposeful to be considered a mere stroll. (I have to confess, here, that I do a fair bit of bushwalking myself and would feel insulted if someone thought I was merely out for a “stroll”!)

    Re Jo’s queries, I see JD has beaten me to it. The definition for 19D is “calculated symbolism” but, as JD says, it’ll help to think about the “calculated” bit.

  12. TT, it seems as though you are most skilled in the art of getting answers that are not quite the answer.

    I would be mightily impressed if you could solve a cryptic with a whole set of different answers to the clues, all of which fit snugly into the grid.

    Actually, I wonder if DA could create one of those.

  13. AS, your queries:

    7D: I liked this one.
    An ecclesiast over = AN REV over = VERNA
    springy = VERNAL

    21D: I had great difficulty with this too:
    March producer = ALCOTT (author of “Little Women”, about the March sisters)
    books do outside = OT ACT outside = ACOTT (OT = Old Testament)

    8A: You’ve never heard of “semolina pudding”? I envy you! British cuisine at its finest!! And the wordplay bit you’re struggling with:
    twinkling in = MO IN
    18D: Creeper captured sheila’s heart = IVY captured EI = IVEIY

  14. 13D I think report is boom -as in a gun’s report, a prominent Turk is an Aga

    12A Girl-apostrophe for possessive- is her.

  15. 12A: Girl = her? I think we’ve had “me” for “I” before, without complaint. Anyway, “girl” can be the objective case, just like “her”. And I’ve just seen JD’s comment – even better.

    13D: Prominent Turk = AGA
    report = BOOM

    9A: I guess it could have been written as you say (it protects), but I think it’s fine as written. Maybe the fact that e-name is a made-up word led to the use of a question mark, and thence to an actual question. On the subject of question marks, DA normally has eight or more of these every week. This week he has made do with just three!

    6D: mounted during opening gains zero = UP during GAP gains O = GAUPPO

  16. 7D is good.

    21D is super nasty. The direct clue is hard enough, and then you have to work out an abbreviation and a synonym, which then gets anagrammatised before an L is put in there. Ridiculous!

    That clue requires the resurrection of DA Nastiness.

    On 8A, you learn something every day, but I still don’t understand why twinkling = mo.

    Don’t know how I missed 18D — must have been the oddity of the word clogging my faculties of reason.

    On 13D, isn’t that a bit shit if it is what DA intended? And how does BOOM end up after AGA?

    12A makes more sense now.

    So thanks JD and RB!

  17. And I accept I = me because it’s they’re so often substituted in speech. And quite frankly, I much prefer “me and my mates went…” to “my mates and I went…”. The second phrase just sounds too formal for my tastes.

    6D was quite a good clue.

    Thanks again RB.

  18. Wait a minute… it just clicked as to why BOOM appears after AGA. I was still thinking BOOM = PROMINENT in some way because I thought REPORT = BOOM out of the question.

  19. I’m puzzled with 6D.

    Public survey mounted during opening gains zero

    “mounted” = UP
    “opening gains” = GA
    “zero” = O
    UP “during” GA O = GA UP O
    Chuck in the Ls -> GA LL UP O LL

    Where does the second P come from?

  20. I’m not sure if it was intentional by DA, but for 21 D, when I read the clue, and saw March and books so close together, I automatically thought of Little Women.
    Once I realised that Alcott fit the space, it was a matter of working out how. It would be difficult to do it the other way around.

  21. AS, re 21D, I agree it was difficult, but not quite as difficult as you’re making it! There’s no anagram involved; “outside” is not an anagram ind, but a containment ind, so it’s OT with ACT outside = ACOTT.

  22. Yes, JD, the proximity of “March” and “books” should have made it a bit easier. Except that my familiarity with the March sisters was negligible!

    AS, re 8A: twinkling can mean “a very short time”, or a moment, or a mo.

  23. AS

    Since you mention my artful skill at getting answers that are not quite, can I just add this: DAMN IT ALL! I dun it again.

    24A: Loaf for a duck, … (4)

    “Loaf” = TEA
    + L = TEAL
    TEAL = “a duck”

    It’s absolutely right, except it’s wrong.

    The worst part is TEAL then threw me for the two dot-linked clues, 25A, 26A and the two cross-clues, 18D and 24D. (That’s why I thought 24D started with T.)

  24. RB, thanks again for the enlightenment.

    TT, you’ve a gift there. Treasure it.

    And on 9A, there are two issues I have with the Does it protect.

    I don’t like the does, but it protect as a direct clue is ungrammatical.

  25. My interpretation (and it’s highly subjective) is that the direct clue is “it protects” which is inferred from the question being asked by the whole clue. I think I’ve seen this sort of clue before, but can’t find an example in recent DAs – where a silly question is asked of something referred to as “it”, and it’s our job to figure out what “it” is. It’s probably considered a “libertarian” clue.

  26. I’m fine with the “it + verb” structure, just that this particular clue is a bit weird.

    The direct definition has to be either “Does it protect” or “it protect”.

    “Does it protect” is a definition looking for a “yes” or “no” answer rather than “enamel”, while “it protect” is ungrammatical (it should be “it protects”).

    Overall, a peculiar clue in my book.

  27. AS, if I were to defend this clue, and it seems I’ve been cast in that role, I would say that sometimes the direct definition is not explicitly stated. So maybe you’re just not into that kind of clue. I did manage to find something similar in last week’s DA (although this one is very &lit-ish, and so maybe deserves leniency)1A: Is it close to dubious deaths?! Answer was NIGHTSHADE
    No-one commented adversely on this at the time, but I feel sure you’re about to.

  28. I reckon you can substitute ‘enamel’ for ‘it’, leaving “does enamel protect?” There is a question mark at the end of the clue.
    Does enamel protect your online identity? Answer – no, it protects your teeth

  29. JD’s explanation is quite elegant. to me, this type of clue, where a short sentence or phrase functions as the direct definition, is very familiar, and when I saw it it was immediately clear what was going on. So I’m a bit puzzled why a bunch of seasoned DA solvers find it a problem. Now that I think of it, I most associate it with Paul from the Guardian; can’t say I’ve seen it in the Times. I suppose that must mean it belongs to the “libertarian” school of crosswords. But then again, here’s one from Pasquale, also from the Guardian, but regarded as being one of the crustiest old fuddy-duddy Ximineans: “I’m prickly enemy, one may conjecture (5)”. Answer: Nopal, a kind of cactus. Note that here the direct definition is “I’m prickly,” which I suggest is directly analogous to “Does it protect.” So, in the world of crosswords, quite a common thing.

  30. Whoa there Ian! AS is certainly seasoned, but he’s not a “bunch”. I think he is the only complainant so far. I myself did NOT have a “problem” with this clue. Like you, I thought it was pretty clear what was required: as I said in the comment four spots above yours, our task was to find out what “it” was referring to. (And BTW in that comment, my use of the word “silly” was meant in a non-pejorative way, not as a criticism of the clue).

    However, it is also true that I am learning to defend this type of “libertarian” clue with some caution. A few weeks ago, in another forum, I was savaged mercilessly by an outraged non-libertarian! (In fact, someone called Ian contributed earlier to that particular discussion, so you might know that of which I speak)

    Here’s one similar to yours, from Araucaria:
    I’m no longer working on Hebridean Island (7) = RETIREE

  31. Along with DA’s particular clue, I think we’re having a lively chat about the following clue types:

    1 the definition is pronoun + verb (it moves, he animates etc.)
    2 whole clue as cryptic definition with no wordplay
    3 whole clue consists of two cryptic definitions

    I don’t like type 2 — it makes for the spooky feeling that you’re missing something because you can’t seem to find two parts to the clue. Nevertheless, I know it’s a standard part of cryptics and I have to live with disliking them, much as I dislike the inconsistent use of ellipses that happens so frequently.

    Types 1 and 3 I quite like, though, and my fondness for category 3 is why I like DP’s crosswords, which are usually full of them.

    So, when it comes to the direct definition being “I’m prickly”, I’ve got no problem with that and quite like it.

    Similarly, I would have had no issue with “it does protect”. “Does it protect”, though, is something altogether different in my book, something that could conceivably have any answer whatsoever. Why any answer? Because you can ask that question of anything. Does a keyboard protect? Does the sky protect? Does Odin protect? That’s why “does it protect” is useless as a definition because, to my mind, it defines nothing.

    The other option is that we’re meant to ignore the “Does” and consider the clue’s definition to be “it protect”. That’s ungrammatical, but it also breaks one of the few golden rules of cryptic crosswords: at least the first or last word must be part of the cryptic definition.

    Hence, my conclusion: 9A is Bullshit.

  32. RB: Sorry, I posted hastily. From AS’s last post I may have misjudged what the discussion was about.

    AS: I agree, it’s a difficult clue type to parse. I’m sure it has precedents, but I can’t call any to mind at present. To my mind, it works like this: Enamel, something that protects your teeth, your tin mug, your wash basin. E-name, could refer to an online user name, something which would need protecting. However, since E-name is a new coinage, it requires a question mark. The clue as written neatly links the two concepts. It would not work with sky or keyboard, since these objects are not usually associated with protection. Odin, maybe, if you were a devout viking.

    If it had been written, “It protects your online identity?” would that have been better?

  33. AS, are you saying that the clue in question is your type 2? If so, I disagree. I think it’s more like type 3. The clue contains two components: first there is the implication we’re looking for something that protects (cryptic def?); then we’re told it’s something to do with online identity (wordplay or another cryptic def?).

    What’s your stance on the previous week’s 1A?
    Is it close to dubious deaths?! Answer was NIGHTSHADE

  34. Yep, I would have liked “It protects your online identity?” much more.

    And RB, I think it’s definitely type 3.

    And I thought 1A last week was a great clue, and I think there’s a difference. In that one, “nigh” is the synonym for “close to”, so you could say “is it close to” and “is it nigh” without a problem.

  35. AS, I’m still confused about this. I think your objection is because the clue is phrased as a question (does it protect?) rather than a statement (it protects). But this is also the case with the “is it close to…?” clue. And I don’t see that nigh=close alters that fact. I obviously still don’t quite understand your objection.

  36. The difference, as I see it, is that with “Does it protect”, you can replace “it” with a whole variety of words and keep the meaning.

    “Does enamel protect”, “does Odin protect”, “does Daryl Somers protect”, “does a table protect” all mean the same thing — you have an object and you ask if it protects, which is something you can do of any object whatsoever.

    With “is it close to”, the “close to” section can only be replaced by something synonymous for the phrase to retain its meaning. I can’t say “is it Daryl Somers” or “is it a table” and suppose I have the same meaning. I have to say “is it nigh” or “is it near” etc.

  37. I must confess I’ve no idea why you would want to replace “it” with those other words, but given that that’s what you want to do I would have thought the equivalent replacement in the NIGHTSHADE clue would be to once again replace “it”, not “close to”. So, after replacement, you’d have “is Daryl Somers close to” or “is a table close to”. I’ve no idea what this proves or disproves, so I think I’m even further away from any understanding.

    I’ll be out of contact for a whole week now, so you’ll get some peace at last!

  38. I’m choosing which words to replace depending on what the answer demands.

    I’m replacing “it” in “does it protect” because, given the answer, that’s what the clue is asking.

    My objection: you can put any word in there for “it” and the sense of the three words taken as a whole remains the same.

    In “is it close to”, the answer shows that we should be replacing “close to” with another word, in this case “nigh”. But you can’t just put any word in there for the sentence to retain its sense — “close to” needs to be replaced a word that is its equivalent or else the meaning is changed.

    Anyway, Merry Xmas!

  39. Just time for one quick comment. I’d argue that in both clues we’re trying to find what “it” is. Sorry, but I don’t see the relevance of trying to replace “it” in the first clue and “close to” in the second. Also, “close to” is a synonym for the first part of the answer, not for the item as a whole. Help, I’m floundering – can anyone else help with AS’s problem?

  40. I don’t think anyone cares enough, and I doubt that I can be bothered talking about it anymore either.

    Merry Xmas!

  41. 12 Across: Girl’s classified = Her Ad + L = herald
    6 Down: Mounted = up, Opening = gap -> mounted during opening = gaupp + gains zero = gauppo + Ls = gallup poll

  42. Can someone please explain 25A from 18th Dec. DA? OK answer is stroll, but what are retro food scraps? “orts”? Can’t find this in dictionary.

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