DA Confusion for the 25th of May, 2018

I’ll be confused in Hong Kong trying to decipher Chinese characters. Hopefully the DA won’t be as confusing.

99 thoughts on “DA Confusion for the 25th of May, 2018

  1. Waiting for the online version to be loaded. Grrr.
    DA tweeted yesterday a warning:
    “This Friday’s DA is intense. Only diehards & safe-crackers will prevail”

  2. It’s a corker. Took me ages to get the instruction out.
    And it is still very tricky even when you figure that out.
    Extremely clever.
    Have 2 to go but off to work.

  3. Needed lots of scratch paper today, and lots of head scratching as well.

    Bottom left hand corner opened the way. Bunged a few of the asterisked ones in before I got the instruction. Kind of reverse engineering… solve the clue and hope that the instruction becomes clear. But as with Ray, that came later, once I gave up on trying to figure out the formula, and just kept on with the others. Have an answer for all bar 5D, but haven’t fully worked some of them back to the clue.

    It was a doozie. Did my head in. Makes you wonder about DA’s!

  4. Gayle. If interested pretty sure have all now including 5D.
    The asterisk clues structure of having 3 components and not the normal 2 kept blowing my mind or:
    Defn with wordplay is defn, defn and wordplay.

  5. After a very late start (for me) and at work now, I have finished. I enjoy these type of DAs. The 3 clues that made it easy for me were 3a, 15d and 20d.
    I found writing the 20d out helped.

  6. Having fun with this, love the interim solutions in the asterisked clues, and it seems the transpositions aren’t mixed, direction-wise, not in 22D, 25D, 27D, 29D leastwise! Happy solving.

  7. All out bar four non-themed (though iffy on 5D … does interim solution’s wordplay involve dropping final “T” from a 5-letter word?), 17D, 19A, and both 16s. No help yet, please!

  8. All out now but still iffy on 5D. Tho’ it’s probably correct.

    Busy day, seeya! Lettc wspzmrk, dwllu okhrejc!

  9. Celia, 16A is a straight replacement, defn is first word.
    16D is similar, defn first word. Not a great clue, though.

  10. Thanks Black Pen, but I did solve them all within minutes of requesting no help yet please. Just need my iffy 5D confirmed see bracketed section of 8:57 post

  11. Got the non themed clues out and the theme. Frankly, a bit tedious now. Not one of my favs.

  12. I liked this one. Challenging but doable. 28A was a particularly clever observation.

  13. If it was tough for the experts, it is close to impossible for me. I have a dozen or so, completely flummoxed by 27D, I had thought ‘perjurer’ answer perfectly straightforward until I found 32A. Impossible to match. Not hopeful of further progress.

  14. All out. I think I understand 5d within the construct of the clue, sympathy falls short ties with learn.
    I’m not quite sure of the dickens tie and 19a.
    Needed to confirm some answers online once I got them, some words I didn’t know for sure.
    A bit tricky within the construct of the wordplay.

  15. ArthurC: 27D: def is first word of clue, the final real answer is a somewhat archaic synonym of that.

    Perjurer is the def of the themed answer, that needs to then be treated in the way described in the NB note to transfigure it to the real answer as above.

  16. Margaret: The ‘word’ formed by letters 1,2,6 of the 19A answer are intimately connected with Dickens, google those two words together to see in what way.

  17. Extraordinary feat of setting. For example, the connection between the 11A solution and the wordplay. Well done, DA, it’s a masterpiece in my opinion.

  18. @Ian F. I obviously didn’t totally get 11A. When I read it, the surface doesn’t make any sense.

  19. Ian F. I am speculating that u r the Ian of ACC? If so I have sent u a request for sssistance if u can. If u r not my apologies. Thanks

  20. Stig Helson, all asterisked clues have two definitions, one for the interim result, one for the final result. So re 11A “Woods on the green” is an animal, an interim answer that needs to be further processed by the instructions in the note at the top of the clue to deliver the final answer, a “sort of pie”. You have to solve some straightforward clues to work out what those instructions tell you to do!

  21. @Celia, what’s that got to do with the sense of the surface, a key part of any cryptic clue?

  22. Stig, doesn’t each themed clue have two surfaces, 11A has “Woods on the green [?]”; then the surface of a straightforward follow-on definition “sort of pie?” for the final (transmuted) answer. The two parts don’t bear any relationship with each other, other than a conversion algorithm to take you from one to the other.

  23. @Celia, no. It’s presented as one thing, not two. It might be solved by breaking it down into parts, but that’s what cryptic clues are all about. Theme or no theme, each clue should stand alone as a viable cryptic clue, and that means the overall surface reading should make sense.

  24. Thanks Andrew t on 27D. I end the day with 14 answers,not really worth bothering about the rest, too difficult for me.

  25. Please rewrite one or two of the asterisked clues then Stig to demonstrate to everyone here what you mean.

  26. I’m still working my way through. Have partly got the theme. I loved the reference to “letters and numbers” in 23A

  27. Stig has a point about 11A. It is not possible to derive “Woods on the green” from the rest of the clue. By contrast, in 27D it is possible to derive “perjurer” from “showing up bar”. Therefore, 11A is a clue of a different stripe.

  28. Rob B, I immediately understood “Woods on the green” to mean a certain golfer’s name. Doesn’t that make it a cryptic definition?

  29. 11ac surface does not make sense. I understand the double definition and the derivation of the final answer from the interim solution. DA is not noted for smooth surfaces.

    I have an answer for 22d but cannot see how the instrument is provided by “republican joking”.

  30. Celia. And if one does not have that particular piece of cultural capital, then what?

  31. Peta, re 22D, a Republican has no monarch! That gives you letters 4 & 5. “stop” gives letters 1-3. “instrument” is the inner definition, and “plants” is the definition for the instruction-modified form. Cheers.

  32. Stig and Celia – I think the ‘Woods on the green’ by itself does count as a cryptic definition, though rather an obvious one. Perhaps the question mark at the end of the whole clue is intended to relate to this part of the clue, as it’s not necessary for the pie bit.
    Kudos to DA for this one – there can’t be many words that code to proper words in the first place, and then he had to fit them in a grid and come up with clues that work for both bits of the coding. Respect!!

  33. 11 A was my first one in (just a guess of course). From it, I was able to work out the answers needed to form the theme.

    I have it all solved with the exception of 5D.

  34. @Celia Are you asking me to write 11A so that it has good surface? I don’t know if that’s possible, but that doesn’t change the fundamental cryptic concept that clues should have good surface. If 11A CAN’T be written with good surface reading, then maybe it shouldn’t be written at all. I think most people here know what good surface means. Maybe you should explain what you mean by a clue having two separate surface readings.

    BTW, I only focused on 11A because Ian F gave it as an example of part of a masterpiece, but there are quite a few clues in this crossword that make little sense. Surface reading doesn’t seem to be a priority in Age crosswords.

    Also, I don’t think the inclusion of a theme is an excuse for lacklustre clue-writing.

  35. When I read the rubric I nearly gave up before I started. But 3a was so easy I persisted. Now 8 to go. Maybe help with 21a and 30a could get me started on clearing those up…

  36. I really enjoyed today’s crossword, Stig Helson. I’ve not noticed you as a contributor before though. Why don’t you follow through with the compiler regarding your complaint? He has a website and a Twitter account (@dontattempt). Cheers.

  37. SandyM,
    re 30A Peer closely at the 3rd & 4th clue words to find the “rider”. Oh defn is “wipe out”.

    21A Defn is “go on”. Could it be a rabbit flavoured pancake variation?

  38. Sandy M, 21a is a straightforward double definition (first part verb, second part noun). 30a is an inclusion (I always miss these).
    Newly, 7a definition is first 2 words.

  39. Newly, re 7A: Defn “Buddhist goal”; wordplay is a 3+3 charade. Last 3 letters are a 6-letter word for “genesis” with its spirit removed.

    Last comment for me, more important matters beckon. Happy solving everyone!

  40. Thanks Celia. That gave me 30a, but I think I need more for 21a. Perhaps it is a vocab lapse. Where do I find pancake variations?

  41. By the way Stig, I can’t see what is wrong with the surface of 11a. I would ask if I found woods on any sort of pie, the green sort or the red sort.

  42. Now I am down to five. Any hints on 5d, 6d, 12a, or 29d? And is 29a definition the first word (name)?

  43. I so love it when the weekly DA is a challenge that takes up a good amount of time and mental gymnastics. Makes it so much more rewarding when (if) the penny drops. Having said that, still waiting for my aha moments with 22d, 29d and for the straightforwards 13ac and 21ac. Happy to keep struggling and will probably venture back here for hints in the not too distant future when I finally decide I should be doing more than just playing mindgames with DA all weekend.

  44. Sally,
    22d – the answer is “plants”, apply the wordplay and note that stop = 1-3 and a republican does not have a monarch.
    29d – answer is “blow”, wordplay gives you soldiers top, builder is record in khaki jacket.
    13a – think of “blubber” in a different usage rather than cry and it falls out.
    21a – when people “go on” they tend to …… I agree with others it usually isn’t thought of as a pancake.

    thanks above, people, for the Dickens reference – I don’t think I would’ve got there.

  45. Celia at 5.35. Stig has been here longer than you. Quit your attitude. Despite what you may think, this is not your forum. You may dominate it – almost 30% of posts are from you. We know that you have a mental problem but don’t slag off other contributors.

  46. Nearly there. Just 5d to do. Help please. Also don’t get the word play for 28a. It just seems like a straight, though rather oblique, clue.

  47. My take
    5d – “start” answer, word play is “to learn” and “sympathy falling short” – as in having a ….. missing the end.

    28A – the clue is the double usage of dual leads – their names and “in this”.

  48. Have to agree with you Peter. I’ve tried to keep the peace but I respect Celia in other walks of life. Stig has been around for ever on this forum and sometimes we have not agreed, but I did today about 11A.
    Celia has openly said that she has her settings so that she gets every new post, which is open for all of us to do, but we don’t. That’s why so many responses come from her. I have fond memories when this blog was more collaborative, and not a response to one contributor.
    Sorry Celia, I think you are a pretty special person, but i agree with Peter, this is not your forum, and before you, we had a lot more fun. Today was not nice.

  49. Thanks Margaret. And I hope next week we have less nastiness (from both sides).

  50. Sandy M, happy to have been of use.

    I try to stay out of the “personal” issues and stick with the clues. We all help each other. My only real issue was Peter saying that Celia has a “mental problem”; that is a particularly nasty comment and he should have made his point without resorting to this IMHO. However, I am not my brother’s keeper.

  51. No idea on the theme , but if I could get some help with 23ac and 23dn and the 16’s that may lead me down a merry path if not it’s the answer grid tomorrow. TIA.

  52. Gayle, If someone discloses something like that you still don’t make that sort of comment back at them.

  53. I too had it all out bar 5D. Then the sun came up! Shorten ‘sympathy’ to get ‘learn’, then apply the rubric. (Hope it’s late enough for direct clues)

  54. Terry,
    23a helps if you know DAs co-host on letters and numbers. Think of another slang word for “digs”. Think about what are “big pond platforms”. You would have seen them at some point.
    23d , 24a and 15d helped get me into what the word play was – think of 23d in terms of a premises, that might help.

    Once you get 23d then it is much easier to get 20d if you look carefully at how 20d and the wordplay clue are actually worded. Even once you get the wordplay it is still a bit tricky. You really need a pen and paper.

    16a is just a straight dual meaning for both little and drunk. 16d is best approached from the “online saboteur” – you certainly would’ve heard of the expression; you then need to think of a less common meaning for angle.

    Best of Luck.

  55. @ Ben, @ 9:29. Even with the rubric and a whole day in between, it’s still not late enough and looking for enlighenment.

  56. A real challenge today, and I still don’t have the NE corner (5D, 6D and 8A) or 22D or 29D and have run out of steam.
    For my money DA defines the genre so I don’t care what he does. 11A was fun; as was 12A, 27D, etc etc. Rough … smooth … it’s all doable … I can’t see the problem.
    The nastiness is very sad.

  57. No nastiness intended. Very sad. Goodbye friends. You’ve been a big part of my life through all sorts of adversity. Fridays will never be the same. Crosswords were just meant to be fun.

  58. It’ll pass Gayle. If we can’t let the heat of the moment pass here, what hope for the world? See you next week?

  59. Now that I’ve stopped reading “sympathy” as “symphony” I might have a chance with 5D!

  60. SB – ahh been there done that. The really sad part is when you convince yourself you have the correct answer and then realise you’ve read the clue wrong.

  61. Gayle, please come on. I just got into this to help with cracking a code. Your posts have been great. Yes, there has been an unpleasant splat, but lots of us are newcomers looking for help and to develop our skills.

    2 months ago I couldn’t have done a DA; today, with perseverance and this blog, I have done 90 percent of today’s, without coming to this site! Got the theme, everything, (no, can’t nut out 2a and everyone says 3a is easy, but can’t see it).

    So thanks to everybody. Please: don’t drop out, don’t spat, spit, split, just urge, splurge

  62. Indeed. Well, 5D and 8A still elude me although I’m pretty confident about the 2nd word of 8A

  63. Hi SB

    Agreed with your earlier post. Surely here we’re a community of friends. Gayle, Celia, Stig: please note.

    8A: Spooner for mispronunciation. You’ ve got the second word; not what sort of craft do VIPs use?
    Then change the words front to back and exchange the first letters of each word then say it out loud: what do you get?

    Hope that makes sense

  64. thanks xmgjim. It’s the spoonerism for mock that’s eluding me. I’m sure it’s going to be a duh moment when it comes. How are you going with 3A and 2D?

  65. Thanks Stig Helson someone (of many observers o imagine) has to point it out to the ‘fanboy club’.
    Difficult dies not make cryptic. Straightforward definitions most if time are difficult of itself, and DA relies mostly on that, then ‘obscures’ it with a theme
    By the way , the theme answers itself were the first ones I solved , then gave up because it was no longer interesting and only popped in here now

  66. In the other comments space, for anyone grappling with comprehending this week’s theme, I’ve posted two examples of working it. Contains spoilers (for 11A & 12A). Cheers!

  67. I think, to be fair, if you’re looking for Times Crossword style elegant surfaces, DA wouldn’t be your first port of call. But combining surface elegance with the devious trickery of a DA would be an almost impossible task (perhaps someone like Araucaria for The Guardian came closest). If it’s elegant surfaces you prefer there are plenty of Times crossword styles available, after all, and indeed the Saturday Fairfax cryptic is a decent example. I’m happy DA’s mind continues to produce the Friday puzzles, and long may he continue.

  68. IanF … Agreed ?????

    DA is an innovator, refusing to be constricted by the traditional concepts of cryptic crossword compilation. More power to him! This forum wouldn’t exist if his crosswords lacked such innovations!

  69. Celia, I agree, Araucaria was a supreme example and is sorely missed. He was fiendish and elegant and witty all at the same time. DA is often fiendish but only sometimes elegant and/or witty. But we’re here because we enjoy the fiendish, aren’t we?

  70. Mary, I must profess a total ignorance of Araucaria … in which forum did Araucaria appear?

  71. Araucaria wrote mostly for The Guardian, though he also set puzzles for other publications. His weekend puzzles were always special, and for the bank holiday long weekends there was usually a double puzzle – two identical grids, and clues run together to make a single smooth surface. You had to disentangle where the clue split in two, solve each piece, and insert each answer into the right grid. He also did wonderful alphabetical puzzles – the clues weren’t numbered, but listed in alphabetical order of their answers, so you had to solve enough of them to start working out where they fitted into the grid. These clues were also written in perfect rhyming couplets – now that was real style! When he got terminal cancer, he announced his diagnosis by including the name of his cancer as a hidden theme in his last puzzle.
    For those who value smooth surfaces, I recommend Arachne of the current Guardian crew. She’s a female setter with a light touch and a wicked sense of humour.

  72. I think the issue with 11-acr is that it’s the only asterisked clue without two definitions?
    Enjoyed it overall, one clue left to solve (:

  73. Done, thanks for the 7-acr hint Celia.

    Does a spooner clue imply it may be a homophone? Re: 8-acr

  74. Patrick @ 11.57. I believe the answer is yes, it may be. I guess the classic Spoonerism is “You have tasted two whole worms,” which includes a homophone.

  75. Hi friends – what am I doing wrong with 22d ?? If I reverse engineer the plants , I get ‘ JIVRW’ ; what sort of word is that ?

  76. Thanks Celia – I realised as soon as I posted (Don’t we all always!).

  77. I haven’t visited this site for a few years as I moved interstate and couldn’t easily get a copy of The Age, however I have some observations after coming here today ( which no-one will probably read on Saturday evening) as I always have taken a DA puzzle as a personal challenge; me vs him!
    The observations are:
    DA puzzles are always good.
    I have never heard of the ‘surface’ before today and assume it is a purist thing?
    Celia is still ruffling feathers and tempers :)
    Todays puzzle was extra special, on the level with the Dire Straits puzzle from 10+ years ago if anyone remembers that
    We’re all on the same side; that’s the side opposite DA, keep it nice :)
    I did solve it but with the help of ‘drop the last letter from 5D’ found here

  78. Glen, if you’re still around. The ‘surface’ of a clue is the apparent meaning of the whole clue taken as a simple sentence. The best clues have a coherent meaning which either connects with the cryptic answer or creates a satisfying picture in its own right. Eg in this week’s DA, 19a has a pleasing surface but 21a doesn’t. It’s a bit of a nebulous concept, so I suppose you could say it’s purist, but it’s part of what makes up an individual setter’s style. DA is often excellent but sometimes a bit clunky – though to say so on here often ruffles the feathers!

  79. Agree with you, Mary. I think a cryptic crossword clue has to have some surface meaning, or it’s just a code that needs to be cracked. I must say I rarely even think about the surface meaning with DA, unless it’s an &lit, for example. He’s less worried about the surface, whereas The Times would reject his crosswords as lacking elegance. As I’ve said above though, it’s a case of ‘my father’s house has many mansions’. US crosswords deviated in a very different direction many decades ago. DA, while not having a completely unique style, is idiosyncratic, to say the least. Devious, intricate, topical and local. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I personally always look forward to Friday morning.

  80. Mary , I love Arachne, my favourite setter. Have enjoyed your contributions, and IanF’s, today.
    The Guardian cryptics, free online, unless people would like to send a few dollars to keep them going, and their crossword blog, as well as fifteensquared, are great sites for crossword lovers and solvers.

  81. For the record, best DA I have done so far….awsomely clever compilation with the theme, enough easy clues to crack the puzzle open and great satisfaction in finally getting the theme after heading down a number of rabbit holes. Would not have gotten 5D without a visit here, so thanks to you all.

  82. The team concede defeat. 3d and 5d have us beat. Please put us out of our misery.

  83. Pommy Al re …
    3D: definitions are “weakling” for the final and “plaster on high” for the interim results, with wordplay for the latter “said [homophone indicator] to waterproof”. A word I’ve never seen before except that every room I’ve ever been in has something overhead that starts with that word and ends in “ing”. Put it through the transposition to get the weakling (there was one such in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, “bring out the …”.

  84. Pommy al re …
    5D: I hated this clue! Definitions are “start” for the final and “learn” for the interim results, with wordplay “sympathy (falls short) [truncation indicator]. Here’s a picture clue for the “sympathy” bit … ❤️ … do you wonder why I hated this clue.

    Pardon me now, I’m halfway through reading The Master and Margarita whilst listening to Let It Bleed, must go!

  85. A bit slow to pick it up, but I must say this is one of the most enjoyable and devious grids I’ve ever come across. I did keep waiting to see a “Caesar” reference pop up in there, but clearly that’s just being greedy – it’s already way too smart for its own good!

    I learned to cryptic in the Canberra Times, first on the “Gemini” and then advancing to the “English Cryptic”, often featuring the master, Araucaria. His “alphabetical jigsaw” was a jaw-dropper, and grids like this make me glad there are setters like DA keeping the genre-pushing spirit alive in his honour.

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