NTSPP – 309
A Puzzle by Mitz
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Mitz makes his debut in the NTSPP series with a puzzle that hides a timely surprise.
The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
A review of this puzzle Prolixic follows.
Mitz has certainly arrived with a bang on the pages of the NTSPP and my job is to pick up the pieces for those who fell at the hurdles in solving this. For those who fee Low following their attempts to solve this, hopefully this review will help – as usual it appears The Next Day. Since Mitz joined from the Rookie Corner Nothing Has Changed. As I said in one of his Rookie reviews “As many of the comments have indicated, is some places it seemed as though this crossword was trying too hard to be difficult leading to a lot of obscurities and some clunky surface readings”. At some points I thought it would be Tonight before the review appeared.
There is a Bowie theme running through the crossword. The letters around the edge variously spell out “Life on Mars”, “Ziggy Startdust” and “Starman” and there are a number of references in the clues such as “Space Oddity”, “China Girl”, “Hunky Dory”, “Let’s Dance”, “Rock & Roll Suicide” and presumably many others.
David Bowie 1947 – 2016: Rest in Peace
8 After voyage, arriving where Bond’s earthier cousin was brought up? (8)
LANDFALL – A cryptic definition by reference to the house in Scotland where James Bond was raised and also the eponymous name of the last but one James Bond film.
9 Oh, what a capital malapropism! (6)
OTTAWA – A mispronunciation clue. Mrs Malaprop was a character in Sheridan’s the rivals who would use the wrong word in a humorous way. Modern examples include Tony Abbot, the former Prime Minister of Australia saying “No one… is the suppository of all wisdom” instead of repository. Here the capital could be mispronounced as Oh What A if the consonant are swapped. I am not sure that swapping the consonants actually counts as a malapropism and it is not a good example of its kind.
10 Brother: in short, I return a bird (4)
IBIS – Reverse (return) a three letter abbreviated form of sibling (brother – as a definition by example maybe this should have been indicated) and the I from the clue.
11 Changes to herb mum can use to indicate speed (4,6)
MACH NUMBER – An anagram (changes to) of HERB MUM CAN. I think the construction wordplay use to indicate definition jars slightly.
12 With honour lost, everyone stuck in the bog (6)
FALLEN – A word meaning everyone inside (stuck in) another word for a bog or marshy area.
14 Marvellous Heroes little boy defended? (8)
SHIELDED – The heroes in the Marvel comics are referred to a S.H.I.E.L.D (who says you don’t need obscure pieces of general knowledge to solve crosswords) and followed this with a diminutive (little) name for Edward (boy).
15 Extreme evidence about Space Oddity – the one that got away (7)
ESCAPEE – The outer letter (extreme – shouldn’t this be extremes if both letters are required) of evidence around an anagram (oddity) of SPACE.
17 Butting in, China Girl, whose ship has sailed, finds posh French residence (7)
CHATEAU – Hold on to your hats for this explanation! Remove the in (butting) from China and follow this with a the name of a girl from which the SS has been removed (whose ship has sailed) and add a U for posh. Butting does not work for me as a deletion indicator. To butt is to go forward forcefully, to hit with the head or to push against something, none of which indicate a removal other than by association that push and go can mean removal but not in the sense in which they are used in the verb to butt.
20 Caught, say, with fruit, having to initially use knife more skillfully? (8)
OUTFIGHT – A three letter word indicating a dismissal in cricket of which caught is an example (say) followed by a three letter fruit and the first letters (initially) of having to.
22 Decks where sailor is found, drunken sot. (6)
TAROTS – A three letter word for a sailor is found by an anagram (drunken) of SOT.
23 Leprosy can turn into sleeping sickness (10)
NARCOLEPSY – An anagram (turn) of LEPROSY CAN.
24 Let’s Dance: 50 going at the last with enthusiasm (4)
ZEST – An anagram (dance) of LETS without the L (50 going) after the last letter of the alphabet.
25 Spooner’s children, close to docks (6)
MINORS – A Spoonerism of nigh (close to) moors (docks).
26 Twice animals at first encapsulate umpteenth Australian; no corals for example (8)
ANTHOZOA – Another one to hold onto your hats for! The first letter of animals goes before and after (encapsulates) another way of saying umpteenth (as in the Nth degree), a two letter word for Australian (Chambers allows for its usage as an adjective as well as a noun) and a shortened form of no. The usual rule for setters is that the more obscure the word the simpler the wordplay should be which is not the case here! Also the surface reading even reading it generously does not read well.
1 Nationals of South Africa put feet in, heading off with playing partners (8)
ZAMBIANS – The IVR code for South Africa includes another word for feet in poetry with the first letter removed (heading off) an a pair of bridge players.
2 Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide, briefly leaving out you, I see, on the 15th (4)
IDES – An anagram (rock and roll) of SUICIDE after removing the letters sounded from YOU I SEE.
3 Actor demands millions, not billions, the ham (6)
GAMMON – The actor Michael Gambon with the B for billions replaced by an M for millions.
4 Sugar paste childishly put in, because… (7)
GLUCOSE – Another word for an adhesive (glue) includes a childish way of saying because.
5 …about 40 is, some say, like the journalist Dudes, sort of? (8)
YOUNGISH – A cryptic definition from the song written by David Bowie and performed by Mott The Hoople “All the young dudes carry the news”. To obscure for a cryptic definition for my liking.
6 Someone who copies English out instead: it’s surprisingly something exciting (10)
STIMULATOR – Remove the E (English out) from emulator (someone who copies) and replace it (instead) with an anagram (surprisingly) of ITS.
7 Thin White Duke, first outside and last respectively on leaving zone, shows pluck (6)
TWEZE – The first letter of thin followed by the outside letters of white, the last letter of duke and the outer letters (on leaving) of zone.
13 Fashion fad: cool art leads to maximum capacity (4,6)
LOAD FACTOR – An anagram (fashion) of FAD COOL ART. The answer is given in Chamber as a percentage of the maximum capacity not the maximum capacity itself.
16 Advantage not as much as an infinite plane (8)
EDGELESS – A four letter word meaning advantage followed by a word meaning not as much.
18 Love in tatters – in tatters I tell you (8)
ATTESTOR – The letter representing love or zero goes inside an anagram (in tatters) of TATTERS.
19 More work, not at the outset Hunky Dory (7)
UTOPIAN – The name of a book by Thomas More followed by the first letter (at the outset) of not.
21 Muse on town: be off, by the sound of it – first class return (6)
URANIA – Another word for town (as an adjective as in town planning) with the B removed (be off by the sound of it) followed by a reversal (return) of A1 (first class). Here we have definition on wordplay and in 2d we had wordplay on definition, neither of which work particularly well for me.
22 Oddly, took yoof to a car (6)
TOYOTA – The odd letters of TOOK YOOF TO A.
24 Go with high 11, masked swordsman chucking out bishop at mass (4)
ZOOM – The name of the masked swordsman without the RR (chucking out bishop) followed by the abbreviation for mass.