Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014 — ST 4581

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4581
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Setter
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4581]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
★★★★
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, April 12, 2014[Note 2]
Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐
█████████████████████████████████
└────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Times for the Times
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Times for the Times
- yet to be solved
Notes
[1] This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, April 12, 2014 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.
[2] Unverified as a paywall bars access to the The Vancouver Sun website.

Introduction

Knowing that today's puzzle would be by Anax, I braced myself for a good challenge — and he certainly delivered. As you can see from the chart above (which resembles a rainbow today), I needed a fair bit of electronic assistance. Even with that help I still failed to solve one clue. While Dave Perry's review revealed the wordplay and the solution for that clue, it did not help me understand the definition. I spent a long time searching for an explanation before the thought occurred to me to check if the answer might lie in Cockney rhyming slang.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Definitions are underlined in the clue, with subsidiary indications being marked by means of a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions.

Across


1a   Stays in charge to interrupt forecast (6)

Historically, stays[5] were a corset made of two pieces laced together and stiffened by strips of whalebone.

A bodice[5] is a woman’s sleeveless undergarment, often laced at the front.

4a   Extremely pompous and touchy sort of cow (5,3)

Cow is used as a verb.

10a   See parts to flog in stock left after deal (5)

Lo[5] is an archaic exclamation used to draw attention to an interesting or amazing event and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them.

11a   Sudden discovery a short time after clumsy warning (3,6)

Aha moment[5] is an informal term for a moment of sudden insight or discovery he had an aha moment when looking at my medications past and present.

12a   One using special biology terms? (12)

15a   Was singer Romeo's spotted outside dead drunk? (9)

Romeo[5] is a code word representing the letter R, used in radio communication.

17a   Criminal's lost in holiday home (5)

How did I ever manage not to see the wordplay here?

18a   Satisfied about religious books and sacred music (5)

The word "books" is often used to clue either the Old Testament (OT) or the New Testament (NT). The use of the modifier "religious" makes the intent even more clear.

19a   Gay girl's dancing around daughter's fabulous tree (9)

In Scandinavian mythology, Yggdrasil[5] is a huge ash tree located at the centre of the earth, with three roots, one extending to Niflheim (the underworld), one to Jotunheim (land of the giants), and one to Asgard (land of the gods).

20a   What befits those in trouble, receiving variable quantity? (3,2,3,4)

Six of the best[5] is a chiefly British expression, historical or humorous, denoting a caning as a punishment, traditionally with six strokes of the cane one prefect would hold you down and the other would give you six of the best.

In some British schools, a prefect[5] is a senior pupil who is authorized to enforce discipline.

24a   FA support won't start more trouble (9)

The intent here is to mislead the solver into thinking that FA stands for The Football Association[7], also known simply as the FA, which is the governing body of football [soccer] in England. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in England.

In reality, FA[5] is the abbreviation for Fanny Adams[5], a British slang term meaning nothing at all [a euphemism for fuck all and commonly appearing in the phrase sweet Fanny Adams] ⇒ I know sweet Fanny Adams about mining.

I thought the support was a PIER, while Dave Perry opted for BIER. Either works [although the setter does confirm that he intended it to be PIER].

25a   Half-inch square piece of cloth (5)

It took forever — and many wrong turns — to track down the definition here. I found lots of explanations of the wordplay but the definition is seemingly so familiar to Brits that it merited no explanation whatsoever.

Half-inch[5] is Cockney rhyming slang for pinch (in the sense of steal) ⇒ she had her handbag half-inched.

The Chambers Dictionary lists S[1] as an abbreviation for square.

26a   Virgin can, when taken by force (8)

27a   Design an alien world (6)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial[7] (often referred to simply as E.T.) is a 1982 American science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. It tells the story of a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed "E.T.", who is stranded on Earth. He and his siblings help the extraterrestrial return home while attempting to keep it hidden from their mother and the government.

Down


1d   A pain mostly there in chest? Start to exhale (10)

2d   Think about jail? (10)

A double definition with the second being the whimsical invention of the setter.

3d   Couple finishing off fancy sweets (5)

What North Americans call candy[5], the Brits call sweets. In Britain, candy[5] is sugar crystallized by repeated boiling and slow evaporation making candy at home is not difficult—the key is cooking the syrup to the right temperature.

The clue would seem to use the word "candy" in the North American sense, but that may only be because I'm looking at it from a North American perspective.

5d   A funny Scooby Doo episode? (6,3,5)

Although I originally saw this as a cryptic definition, I suppose Dave Perry may have somewhat of a point when he identifies it as a double definition.

A funny[10] is a joke or witticism.

A shaggy-dog story[5] is a long, rambling story or joke, typically one that is amusing only because it is absurdly inconsequential or pointless. [from an anecdote of this type, about a shaggy-haired dog (1945)].

Scooby-Doo[7] is an American animated cartoon franchise, comprising several animated television series produced from 1969 to the present day. The original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, featured four teenagers—Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers—and their talking brown Great Dane dog named Scooby-Doo, who solve mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures through a series of antics and missteps.

Scooby-Doo, being a Great Dane, is not particularly shaggy, although the cartoon does feature a human character named Shaggy. Perhaps Scooby-Doo is a "Shaggy dog" because he belongs to Shaggy. Or perhaps we are meant to read it as "a Shaggy/dog story", that is, a story about Shaggy and a dog.

6d   Meeting point where explorer gets into shelter (9)

Sir John Ross[5] (1777–1856) was a British explorer. He led an expedition to Baffin Bay in 1818 and another in search of the North-West Passage between 1829 and 1833.

Sir James Clark Ross[5] (1800–1862) was a  British explorer. He discovered the north magnetic pole in 1831, and headed an expedition to the Antarctic from 1839 to 1843, in the course of which he discovered Ross Island, Ross Dependency, and the Ross Sea. He was the nephew of Sir John Ross.

7d   Outstanding work of Pindar read out (4)

Judging by comments on Times for the Times, I wasn't the only one to have trouble with this clue.

8d   Film-maker, rubbish one (4)

Jacques Tati[5] (1908–1882) wa a French film director and actor; born Jacques Tatischeff. He introduced the comically inept character Monsieur Hulot in Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953), seen again in films including the Oscar-winning Mon oncle (1958).

Tat[5] is an informal British term meaning tasteless or shoddy clothes, jewellery, or ornaments the place was decorated with all manner of gaudy tat.

9d   Parliamentary process aimed only at heading off Tory revolts (5,3,6)

Although the definition and checking letters provided sufficient information to solve the clue with the assistance of a word finder programme, I failed to decipher the wordplay.

An early day motion[7] (EDM), in the Westminster system of parliamentary government, is a motion, expressed as a single sentence, tabled by Members of Parliament that formally calls for debate "on an early day". In practice, they are rarely debated in the House and their main purpose is to draw attention to particular subjects of interest.

I tried to find an instance where such a motion was used to head off a Tory revolt. In fact, I found the virtually the opposite. The censure motion by which the Labour Government of James Callaghan was ejected had its origin in an early day motion (no. 351 of 1978–79), put down on 22 March 1979, by Conservative Party Leader Margaret Thatcher.

13d   Good law easing supply for Scot (10)

I never seem to remember that supply[5], used as an adverb meaning in a supple way, can be an anagram indicator.

A Glaswegian[5] is a native of Glasgow, Scotland.

14d   US financial interests briefly spread into personal money supply (4,6)

Wall Street[5] is a street at the south end of Manhattan, where the New York Stock Exchange and other leading American financial institutions are located. The name is used allusively to refer to the American money market or financial interests. The street was named after a wooden stockade which was built in 1653 around the original Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam.

16d   A sensible person knocked senseless? (3,4,2)

The term twit seems to have a bit of a different connotation in the UK than it does on this side of the pond. North American dictionaries define twit as a foolishly annoying person[3] or an insignificant or bothersome person[11]. In Britain, a twit[4] is a foolish or stupid person; or, in other words, an idiot.

Thus "a sensible person" would be NO TWIT.

21d   Stand in line, slowly move ahead (5)

22d   Take a photo and lose it (4)

23d   Muslim provided American backing (4)

A Sufi[5] is a Muslim ascetic and mystic.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for this week — Falcon

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014 — ST 4580

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4580
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Setter
Jeff Pearce 
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4580]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
★★★★
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, April 5, 2014[Note 2]
Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐
██████████████████████████████████
└────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Times for the Times
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Times for the Times
- yet to be solved
Notes
[1] This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, April 5, 2014 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.
[2] Unverified as a paywall bars access to the The Vancouver Sun website.

Introduction

This puzzle put up a stiff challenge virtually from the word go. In the end, I threw in the towel and consulted Dave Perry's review with one clue unsolved and a couple of other clues for which the parsing was a mystery.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Definitions are underlined in the clue, with subsidiary indications being marked by means of a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions.

Across


1a   This writer's second drink leads to ruin (4-2)

It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as compiler, setter, (this) author, (this) writer, or this person to refer to himself or herself. To solve such a clue, one must generally substitute a first person pronoun (I or me) for whichever of these terms has been used in the clue.

The wordplay in this clue parses as ME (this writer) + ('s; contraction for 'has') S (second) + SUP (drink).

In the surface reading the 's is indicating possession. However, in the cryptic reading, it becomes a contraction for 'has' — and thus a charade indicator. 

The phrase "leads to" is a link between the wordplay and the definition. The general structure of the clue is 'wordplay produces (leads to) definition'.

As a verb, sup[5] is a dated or Northern English term meaning to take (drink or liquid food) by sips or spoonfuls ⇒ (i) she supped up her soup delightedly; (ii) he was supping straight from the bottle. As a noun, it means (1) a sip of liquid ⇒ he took another sup of wine or (2) in Northern England or Ireland, an alcoholic drink ⇒ the latest sup from those blokes at the brewery.

5a   Racecourse favourite leaving route that may lead to prizes (6)

I was at a total loss here, not having heard of this English seaside resort — never mind its racecourse. However, after a bit of research, I discover that I was within about 25 miles of it when I visited Whitby this past year.

Redcar Racecourse[7] is a thoroughbred horse racing venue located in Redcar, North Yorkshire, England.

9a   University not about to pursue one with royal connections (9)

Princeton University[7] is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey.

10a   Oddly pear tree provides spread (4)

11a   Old crib made of bone (6)

Crib[10] means to steal (another's writings or thoughts).

12a   Feature of Whitehall not cheap to wander around (8)

Whitehall[7] is a road in the City of Westminster, in central London. Recognised as the centre of Her Majesty's Government, the street is lined with government departments and ministries; the name "Whitehall" is thus also frequently used as a metonym for overall British governmental administration, as well as being a geographic name for the surrounding area. The name is taken from the vast Palace of Whitehall that used to occupy the area but which was largely destroyed by fire in 1698. Whitehall is also widely known for a number of memorial statues and monuments, including Britain's primary war memorial, the Cenotaph.

14a   One bird returned without a nose and tongue (8)

While I managed to find the solution with a bit of electronic help, I failed to parse the clue. My sense of failure was somewhat mitigated by seeing that Dave Perry did not fare much better at it.

The solution is GUJARATI and the wordplay parses as a reversal (returned) of {I ([Roman numeral for] one) + JUG (bird)} containing (without) {A (from the clue) + RAT (nose)}.

In British slang, bird[10] means prison or a term in prison (especially in the phrase do bird; shortened from birdlime, rhyming slang for time). Jug[10] is a slang word for jail.

Nose[5] is an informal [presumably British] term for a police informer he knew that CID men are allowed to drink on duty as much of their time is spent with noses. Rat[10] is (mainly US) slang for an informer or stool pigeon.

The Criminal Investigation Department (seemingly better known by its abbreviation CID[2]) is the detective branch of the British police force.

Gugarati[5] is the Indic language of Gujarat, spoken by about 40 million people. Gujarat[5] is a state in western India, with an extensive coastline on the Arabian Sea; capital, Gandhinagar. Formed in 1960 from the northern and western parts of the former state of Bombay, it is one of the most industrialized parts of the country.

16a   Left open but unfinished (4)

18a   Kit to boast about (4)

Kit[10] may mean (1) clothing and other personal effects, especially those of a traveller or soldier (i) safari kit; (ii) battle kit or (2) clothing in general (especially in the phrase get one's kit off [get naked]).

19a   Getting short model a cocktail of gin (8)

Surely, Dave Perry has mistyped his explanation of the clue.

The wordplay parses as TWIGG (short model; TWIGG[Y] with the final letter deleted) + ING {an anagram of (a cocktail [mixture] of) GIN}.

Lesley Lawson (née Hornby), widely known by the nickname Twiggy[7], is an English model, actress and singer. In the mid-1960s she became a prominent British teenage model of swinging sixties London. Twiggy was initially known for her thin build (thus her nickname) and her androgynous look consisting of large eyes, long eyelashes, and short hair. In 1966, she was named "The Face of 1966" by Britain's Daily Express newspaper and voted British Woman of the Year.

21a   Rest around river and go down (8)

Rest[10] is death regarded as repose   ⇒ eternal rest. As a noun, decease[10] is a more formal word for death and, as a verb, it is a more formal word for die.

22a   Detest old Turner being placed outside (6)

The surface reading alludes to English painter J. M. W. Turner[5] (1775–1851); full name Joseph Mallord William Turner. He made his name with landscapes and stormy seascapes, becoming increasingly concerned with depicting the power of light by the use of primary colours, often arranged in a swirling vortex. Notable works: Rain, Steam, Speed (1844); The Fighting Téméraire (1838).

24a   Party returned to middle of Pacific island (4)

The Labour Party[5] in Britain (abbreviation Lab.[5]) is a left-of-centre political party formed to represent the interests of ordinary working people that since the Second World War has been in power 1945–51, 1964–70, 1974-9, and 1997–2010. Arising from the trade union movement at the end of the 19th century, it replaced the Liberals as the country’s second party after the First World War.

Bali[5] is a mountainous island of Indonesia, to the east of Java; chief city, Denpasar; population 3,470,700 (est. 2009).

26a   Cutters go round tense swimmers (9)

27a   Belittle Derbyshire opening pair's average (6)

Derbyshire[5] is a county of north central England; county town, Matlock.

28a   Asian city new to a canvasser (6)

Nagoya[5] is a city in central Japan, on the south coast of the island of Honshu, capital of Chubu region; population 2,154,287 (2007).

Goya[5] (1746–1828) was a Spanish painter and etcher; full name Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. He is famous for his works treating the French occupation of Spain (1808–14), including The Shootings of May 3rd 1808 (painting, 1814) and The Disasters of War (etchings, 1810–14), depicting the cruelty and horror of war.

Down


2d   Reason old mate departed gripping job at uni? (11)

In Britain, mate[5] is an informal term (1) for a friend or companion my best mate Steve or (2) used as a friendly form of address between men or boys ‘See you then, mate.’.

Uni[5] is an informal [seemingly British] term for university ⇒ he planned to go to uni.

Expostulate[10] (usually followed by with) means to argue or reason (with), especially in order to dissuade from an action or intention.

3d/17d   One speaking in a funny way about press is a comedian (5,8)

Mill[10], as a noun, can mean any of various processing or manufacturing machines, especially one that grinds, presses, or rolls and, as a verb, to grind, press, or pulverize in or as if in a mill.

Spike Milligan[5] (1918–2002) was an Irish comedian and writer who was born in India; born Terence Alan Milligan. He came to prominence in the British cult radio programme The Goon Show (1951-9).

4d   After being poorly I clear up sick (8)

In Britain, poorly[5] is not only used as an adverb, but also as an adjective meaning unwell ⇒ she looked poorly.

The wordplay is an anagram of I CLEAR UP leading to a the solution PECULIAR.

I initially thought that the anagram indicator must be "sick"; however, after a great deal of deliberation, I have concluded that it has to be "after being poorly".

I suppose peculiar means sick as in ⇒ Having had too many beers the night before, I awoke feeling peculiar.

5d   Arguments with son following arrest (3-3)

6d   What's central part of amoeba? (9)

From a typographical perspective, a diphthong[10] is a digraph or ligature representing a composite vowel. From what I can decipher, the ae in Caesar is a digraph, while the æ in Cæsar is a ligature.

Perhaps the clue might better have been written thus:
  • 6d   What's central part of amœba? (9)
Despite "œ" here being a diphthong from a typographical perspective, I was unable to find any evidence that it is a diphthong from the phonetical point of view in which a diphthong[10] is defined as a vowel sound, occupying a single syllable, during the articulation of which the tongue moves from one position to another, causing a continual change in vowel quality, as in the pronunciation of a in English late, during which the tongue moves from the position of (e) towards ((ɪ)).

Although spelled differently, the word amoeba (US ameba) appears to be pronounced identically in the UK (əˈmiːbə) and US (ə-mē′bə) with the digraph oe taking a "long e" sound in both cases.

Thus, I am led to conclude that a phonetical diphthong — such as the a in late — can be represented typographically by a single letter, while a typographical diphthong — such as the œ in amœba — may not be a diphthong at all from a phonetical perspective.

7d   Front of boat? That's not right! (3)

This is another instance where I failed to fully parse the clue. I did realize that the clue is indicating that we need to concern ourselves with the stern of the boat rather than its front — which was sufficient information to determine the solution.

Since this is an & lit. (all-in-one) clue, it can be read one way as the definition and a second way as wordplay. However, I find myself unable to rigorously explain either reading.

I have to suppose that in the second interpretation we are expected to parse the clue as [R]AFT (boat) that has ('s) not R (right) at the front. The 's is a contraction for 'is' in one reading and a contraction for 'has' in the other.

8d   Thick dustmen start to irritate silly old fogey (5-2-3-3)

In Britain, a dustman[5] is a man employed to remove household refuse from dustbins (the British name for garbage cans[5]).

13d   Castle in Spain or elevated cottage? (3,2,3,3)

The expression 'castle in Spain' (usually seen as part of the phrase 'building castles in Spain') means to daydream (an equivalent expression being 'building castles in the air'). An article on "Castles in Spain" has this to say:
Nowadays, ‘castles in Spain’ means something splendid but non-existent. “Fashionable adventurers in France used to impose on the credulous and get money and social advantages out of them by telling tales of their ‘castles in Spain’, which, needless to say, they did not possess,” is the explanation of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
The expression appears to have entered the English language from French where the expression is "bâtir Châteaux en Espagne".
Of course, another means of saying the same thing is pie in the sky[10], illusory hope or promise of some future good; in other words, false optimism.

In Britain, cottage pie[10] is another name for shepherd's pie.

15d   Ben and I argue about an ingredient of moussaka (9)

Moussaka[5] is a Greek dish made of minced lamb, aubergines, and tomatoes, with cheese sauce on top.

Aubergine[10] is the British name for eggplant.

17d   See 3d

20d   Fruit and nuts served up by boy (6)

The damson[3] (also damson plum) is a Eurasian plum tree (Prunus insititia) cultivated since ancient times for its edible fruit or the oval, bluish-black, juicy plum of this tree.

23d   By a pine (5)

25d   Place to leave fruit for parrot (3)
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for this week — Falcon

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014 — ST 4579

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4579
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Setter
Tim Moorey
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4579]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
★★★★
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, March 29, 2014[Note 2]
Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐
█████████████████████████████████
└────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Notes
[1] This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, March 29, 2014 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.
[2] Unverified as a paywall bars access to the The Vancouver Sun website.


Introduction

This puzzle opened on a Canadian note.  While I was able to solve several clues on my first pass through, my progress soon slowed to a crawl as the remainder of the clues proved more of a challenge. I was pleased at having been able to work out several heretofore unheard of words based on the wordplay.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Definitions are underlined in the clue, with subsidiary indications being marked by means of a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions.

Across


1a   On a bay. perhaps in a Canadian constituency (6)

It's always feels good to get the solution to the first clue right off the top. In Canadian politics, riding[7] is a colloquial term for a constituency or electoral district. Officially, "electoral district" is generally used, although government documents sometimes use the colloquial term.

Historically, in England, the word "riding" denoted a third part of something, especially a county. As alluded to by Dave Perry, the three former administrative divisions of the English county of Yorkshire were North Riding, East Riding and West Riding.

5a   Pointed remarks brought about trouble for the island (8)

9a   One lofty newspaper never failing to appear (2,3,5)

The Times[7] is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register (it became The Times on 1 January 1788). The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times (founded in 1821) are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, itself wholly owned by the News Corp group headed by Rupert Murdoch. The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently and have only had common ownership since 1967.

10a   New eatery with no starter lacking taste (4)

Caff[5] is an informal British name for a cafe.

Naff[5] is an informal British term meaning lacking taste or style he always went for the most obvious melody he could get, no matter how naff it sounded.

11a   Leave leaders in battle ie desert (4)

The Gobi Desert[5] is a barren plateau of southern Mongolia and northern China.

12a   Duke's with another Duke (10)

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington[5] (1769–1852) was a British soldier and Tory statesman who served as Prime Minister from 1828–30 and again in 1834. Known as the Iron Duke, he served as commander of the British forces in the Peninsular War (1808–14) and in 1815 defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, so ending the Napoleonic Wars.

Duke Ellington[5] (1899–1974) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader; born Edward Kennedy Ellington. Coming to fame in the early 1930s, Ellington wrote over 900 compositions and was one of the first popular musicians to write extended pieces. Notable works: Mood Indigo (1930).

14a   AB and C is where I'm said to be at (6)

In the Royal Navy, able seaman[5] (abbreviation AB[5]), is a rank of sailor above ordinary seaman and below leading seaman.

16a   No good a Conservative embracing Unionist of little worth (8)

A Tory[4] is a member or supporter of the Conservative Party in Great Britain or Canada. Historically, a Tory was a member of the English political party that opposed the exclusion of James, Duke of York from the royal succession (1679-80). Tory remained the label for subsequent major conservative interests until they gave birth to the Conservative Party in the 1830s.

Prior to Irish independence in 1920, a Unionist[4] was a supporter of the union of all Ireland and Great Britain. Since 1920, the term signifies a supporter of union between Britain and Northern Ireland.

18a   Get seats prepared as play ready to start (5,3)

If the play is ready to start, then clearly the stage has been set.

20a   Ministers cut about 500 by beginning of September (6)

D[5] is the Roman numeral for 500.

22a   Heather is embraced by William in Essex town (10)

Like Dave Perry, I wanted to incorporate LING in the solution. While I needed to scour the atlas to find the Essex town, not knowing of its existence is likely excusable for someone who grew up some 3000 miles away from it.

Erica[5] is a plant of the genus Erica (family Ericaceae), especially (in gardening) heather.

Billericay[7] is a town and civil parish in Essex, England. It is a commuter town located 28 miles (45 km) east of central London with a population of around 36,338 (2011 census),

24a   Collars seen over in Brisbane (4)

Brisbane[5] is the capital of Queensland, Australia; population 1,945,639 (est. 2008). It was founded in 1824 as a penal colony.

26a   Network provided in organisation for ladies (4)

The Women's Institute (WI)[5] is an organization of women, especially in rural areas, who meet regularly and participate in crafts, cultural activities, and social work. Now worldwide, it was first set up in Ontario, Canada, in 1897, and in Britain in 1915.

27a   Junior male swamped by lowest voice in choral work (1,5,4)

The Mass in B minor[7] (BWV 232) by German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) is a musical setting of the complete Latin Mass. The work was one of Bach's last compositions, not completed until 1749, the year before his death.

29a   Young woman going around SW1? Actually it's W4 (8)

SW1 and W4 refer to postcodes within the London postal district[7] . Postcode is the British equivalent to postal code (Canada) or ZIP code (US).

The SW1 postcode district[7] includes such prestigious addresses as Buckingham Palace, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and 10 Downing Street (the residence and office of the British Prime Minister).

The W4 postcode district[7] covers Chiswick[7], a district of west London, England, and part of the London Borough of Hounslow.

30a   Meat Loaf song at first adopted by robust tenor (6)

Michael Lee Aday (born Marvin Lee Aday) is an American musician and actor best known by his stage name Meat Loaf[7].

Haslet[5] is a chiefly British term for a cold meat consisting of chopped or minced pork offal compressed into a loaf before being cooked.


Down


2d   Ravel trio including new opening (5)

The surface reading may be a reference to Maurice Ravel[5] (1875–1937), a French composer whose works are somewhat impressionistic in style, employing colourful orchestration and unresolved dissonances. Notable works: the ballets Daphnis and Chloë (1912) and Boléro (1928) and the orchestral work La Valse (1920).

3d   First wife getting left out of testaments brings animosity (3,4)

4d   Enter into conflict with police officer and head for ... (2,7)

DS[10] is the abbreviation for Detective Sergeant.

5d   ... bad jolt, losing position initially (3)

6d   Sage used in supper is hit (5)

A rishi[5] is a Hindu sage or saint.

7d   One's drunk around noon and in the evening (2,5)

I had to search through three dictionaries, but I was eventually able to find one which listed the abbreviation for noon as n[2].

8d   Drifting naturally around France (3-6)

The International Vehicle Registration (IVR) code for France is F[5].

13d   Type of fringe for the nut (7)

15d   I air things dubiously but not good to be racist (4-5)

17d   Yacht so mighty close to mishap at sea (5,4)

Gipsy Moth IV[7] is a 54 ft (16 m) ketch that Sir Francis Chichester commissioned specifically to sail single-handed around the globe, racing against the times set by the clipper ships of the 19th century. The name, the fourth boat in his series, all named Gipsy Moth, originated from the de Havilland Gipsy Moth aircraft in which Chichester completed pioneering work in aerial navigation techniques.

On 27 August 1966 Chichester[7] sailed his yawl Gipsy Moth IV from Plymouth in the United Kingdom and returned there after 226 days of sailing on 28 May 1967, having circumnavigated the globe, with one stop (in Sydney, Australia). By doing so, he became the first person to achieve a true circumnavigation of the world solo from West to East via the great Capes. The voyage was also a race against the clock, as Chichester wanted to better the typical times achieved by the fastest fully crewed clipper ships during the heyday of commercial sail in the 19th century.

The first recorded solo circumnavigation of the globe was achieved by the Nova Scotian born, naturalised American Joshua Slocum[7], in 1898 but it took him three years with numerous stops – Slocum also took up the harder challenge of sailing east to west, against the prevailing wind.

19d   After a change of direction, young women become hunting types (7)

In Scotland, a gillie[5] is a man or boy who attends someone on a hunting or fishing expedition.

21d   Parties engaging a lot of upright, highly energetic people (7)

23d   Mostly poor performer on the field is a teacher (5)

Rabbit[5] is an informal term for a poor performer in a sport or game, in particular (in cricket) a poor batsman he was a total rabbit with the bat.

A rabbi[5] may be (1) a Jewish scholar or teacher, especially one who studies or teaches Jewish law or (2) a person appointed as a Jewish religious leader.

25d   Beat time in fleet HQ (5)

28d   Bug found in church no end of a shock at first (3)

In Scottish and Northern English dialects, kirk[5] means church.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for this week — Falcon

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014 — ST 4578

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4578
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Setter
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4578]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
★★★
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, March 22, 2014[Note 2]
Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐
█████████████████████████████████
└────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Times for the Times
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Times for the Times
- yet to be solved
Notes
[1] This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, March 22, 2014 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.
[2] Unverified as a paywall bars access to the The Vancouver Sun website.
[3] Unverified as there is no posting on the Saturday Star Cryptic Forum for March 15, 2014.

Introduction

While this puzzle provided a satisfying challenge, it was certainly less formidable than some that he has produced recently.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary should be read in conjunction with the full review at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above. The underlined portion of the clue is the definition.

Across


1a   Dancing helps, to female adult (3-5)

In Britain, top-shelf[5] (said of magazine) means pornographic while, in North America, the term denotes of a high quality or excellent ⇒ some top-shelf cars are shipped overseas.

6a   Skirt or skirts for boy? I don't know (6)

One might say pass[5] when one does not know the answer to a question, for example in a quiz.

9a   I rest in Greek character's location (6)

Mu[5] is the twelfth letter of the Greek alphabet (Μ, μ).

10a   Stagger around in said gunfight location (2,6)

11a   Doctor to pay those providing treatment? (10)

12a   One thousand and one staff (4)

13a   S P A D E could be represented thus (6-6)

17a   A film is not what the answer is (7,1,4)

Without a Clue[7] is a 1988 British comedy film directed by Thom Eberhardt and starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.

19anbsp;  What fun, being left out of circle (4)

20a   Reduced demonstrating in Lincoln (1,3,6)

Lincoln[5] is a city in eastern England, the county town of Lincolnshire; population 86,800 (est. 2009). It was founded by the Romans as Lindum Colonia.

Abraham Lincoln[5] (1809–1865) was an American Republican statesman, 16th President of the US 1861-5. His election as President on an anti-slavery platform helped precipitate the American Civil War; he was assassinated shortly after the war ended. Lincoln was noted for his succinct, eloquent speeches, including the Gettysburg Address of 1863.

The phrase à bon marché[10] is French for at a bargain price.

22a   Perfect, catching ambassador with trousers down? (2,3,3)

HE[2] is the abbreviation for His or Her Excellency, where Excellency[2] (usually His, Her or Your Excellency or Your or Their Excellencies) is a title of honour given to certain people of high rank, e.g. ambassadors.

23a   Expel from class (6)

In certain British schools, a remove[10] is a class or form [grade], especially one for children of about 14 years, designed to introduce them to the greater responsibilities of a more senior position in the school.

24a   Somebody's gutted by support network (6)

25a   Short skirts are straining the church (8)

Down


2d   Gap over 25 (8)

The numeral 25 is a cross reference indicator directing the solver to insert the solution to clue 25a in its place to complete the clue.

In cricket, an over[5] (abbreviation O[5]) is a division of play consisting of a sequence of six balls bowled by a bowler from one end of the pitch, after which another bowler takes over from the other end.

3d   Lace, one that may be found on running shoe (5)

4d   Crack troops in alien gear (9)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial[7] (often referred to simply as E.T.) is a 1982 American science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. It tells the story of a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed "E.T.", who is stranded on Earth. He and his siblings help the extraterrestrial return home while attempting to keep it hidden from their mother and the government.

5d   Absolutely unique as this grid entry? (4,3,2,6)

The definition certainly is "absolutely". As for the wordplay, I interpret it to indicate that what sets this clue apart is the fact that its solution runs "from top to bottom" in the grid.

6d   Bill has to cut through weed (5)

The wordplay is ACC (bill; account) contained in (has to cut) BY (through; by means of).

Baccy[5] is an informal British term for tobacco.

7d   Adam Price shot first aider (9)

Adam Price[7] is a politician in Wales, and a former Member of the UK Parliament.

8d   Bag that's square, of course (6)

Apparently s is an abbreviation for square, although I failed to find it listed as such in any of my dictionaries.

14d   Wife opening a brothel around Derby (6,3)

Derby[5] is a city in the Midlands of England, on the River Derwent; population 244,700 (est. 2009).

Bowler[5] [known in North America as a derby[5]] is a chiefly British name for a man’s hard felt hat with a round dome-shaped crown.

15d   Boat is able to cross a river (9)

The Tamar[5] is a river in southwestern England which rises in northwest Devon and flows 98 km (60 miles) generally southwards, forming the boundary between Devon and Cornwall and emptying into the English Channel through Plymouth Sound.

16d   No challenge? Gulp! (8)

I have to admit that I failed to see the wordplay here. This is an inverse wordplay style clue — one in which an element of the clue could be produced by wordplay found in the solution. Thus, in this clue, the definition is "no challenge" for which the solution is PUSHOVER. The word "gulp" could be an anagram (OVER) of PUSH (plug; promote through advertising).

18d   I will not head to your shed (6)

20d   Winged Messenger's initial warning (5)

21d   River bird's one raised by wolf (5)

In Roman mythology, Remus[5] is one of the traditional founders of Rome, with his twin brother Romulus[5]. The twin sons of Mars by a Vestal Virgin, Romulus and Remus were abandoned at birth but were found and suckled by a she-wolf and brought up by a shepherd family. Remus is said to have been killed by Romulus during an argument about the new city.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for this week — Falcon