Toughie 1698 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1698

Toughie 1698 by Firefly

Hints and tips by Kitty

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****


Hello and welcome everybody.  Bufo isn’t here this week so you’re stuck with me again. The last time he was away I stepped in and found myself with a Firefly puzzle to blog.  This time is different … but not a lot.

Today’s puzzle has a theme to get you humming.  I found it very straightforward at first, but then slowed. Having said that, I think I may be having a slow brain day because I struggled with one or two which in retrospect I can’t bear to admit to you!

The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the Let’s Face the Music and Dance boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.

Do leave a comment telling us how you found it and what you thought.



1a    Show  tunes? (3,5,2,5)
THE SOUND OF MUSIC: Firefly sets the tone for today upfront.  The title of this musical could describe what tunes are to the ear.  We’ll meet a few more genres in the clues to come


  ARVE Error: need id and provider


8a    Tear off from furthest Ripon (5)
STRIP: The answer is cheekily hiding in the clue, indicated by from

9a    Beef about transport being Dad’s first bit of indignation (8)
PASTRAMI: A mode of transport comes after (because dad’s first) a word for father, keeping the ‘S, then we have the first letter of (bit of) indignation

11a    Death rate falls – heartlessly, aid is withdrawn after that (7)
THEREAT: An anagram (falls) of [d]E[a]TH RATE without A[i]D (heartlessly, aid is withdrawn)

12a    Debate incorporates refreshment and a bit of jaw (5-2)
TEACH-IN: The refreshment is a drink with jam and bread, perhaps, and it is followed by part of the lower jaw

13a    Squanders  1ac? (5)
BLUES: An informal word (with a variant spelling which is the one I’d have thought more common) for wastes is also something which may be cryptically described by 1ac.  Click the picture for video

15a    King advanced, match starts to mean nothing’s feasible (9)
AGAMEMNON: Construct this king of Greek Mythology by put together the pieces: A(dvanced); a contest; the first letters of (starts to) mean nothing; and a short word that informally means practicable or feasible

17a    Sticks may be advantage with crops (9)
BOONDOCKS: Sticks where you might find hicks.  An advantage or favour followed by crops as in cut a bit off the end.  Click for video

20a    Team’s clever regularly to find anchorman (5)
EMCEE: Take regular letters of teamsclever and from this will emerge our anchor (who is not a deejay)

21a    Bail out over outskirts of Poole, with spot of difficulty standing upright (7)
BIPEDAL: An anagram (out) of BAIL together with the outer letters (outskirts) of PoolE and just the first letter of (spot of) Difficulty

23a    College date for fundraising in 1ac (7)
RAGTIME: Another 1ac-ian genre.  Split (3,4) this could be when students act studenty for a week in aid of charity


  ARVE Error: need id and provider


25a    Agitated townspeople denied personal legal principle (8)
ESTOPPEL: Remove the word meaning personal from townspeople and make an anagram (agitated) of the remaining letters.  Chambers defines the answer thus: A judicial bar to alleging or proving that a fact is otherwise than it appears to be.  New to me

26a    Dispense with every book (5)
ALLOT: Every plus a book of books of the Christian Bible.  Dispense as in apportion – the with is misdirecting

27a    Where cats’ eyes shine for 1ac? (6-2-3-4)
MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD: My eyes shone at this clue, as it flew in.  The location of the cats’ eyes which guide motorists at night, and another category of tunes


  ARVE Error: need id and provider




1d    International ship president promoted alongside one produced artificially? (4-4,4)
TEST-TUBE BABY: A charade of an international sporting match, a clumsy ship or boat, the reversal (promoted) of the nickname of a US president, and alongside

2d    Mysterious English lake (5)
EERIE: An abbreviation for English and one of the North American Great Lakes

3d    Subject of ‘Operation Iron’ dumped on journalist (9)
OPPRESSED: This subject is a tyrannised or downtrodden person.  Take the abbreviation for operation and a verb to iron, and dump them on top of our usual journalist

4d    Oil container lifted – hot that, mostly! (7)
NAPHTHA: Take a container for cooking and enter it upwards in the grid (lifted), then add the abbreviation for hot and all but one (mostly) of the letters of that

5d    Caucasus area‘s a site so varied (7)
OSSETIA: An anagram (varied) of A SITE SO

6d    Maiden with a song in 1ac? (5)
MARIA: A lovely all-in-one clue.  We need the cricketing abbreviation for Maiden and an operatic song, which put together give us the star of the show.  The real life 6d von Trapp is pictured, but is not the subject of the song to which clicking the picture will bring you

7d    Pinch my half of sofa in clash related to 1ac? (9)
SYMPHONIC: Take PINCH MY and half of SO[fa]: when anagrammed (in clash) they bring you to the harmonious answer

10d    Bored nude modelled without gain … (12)
UNINTERESTED: An anagram (modelled) of NUDE around (without) the monetary return you might get from investments if you’re lucky

14d    … Greek character turned up with nothing and quietly modelled in open (9)
UNOPPOSED: A letter of the Greek alphabet, reversed (turned up, in a down clue) then in turn the letter which signifies nothing, the musical abbreviation for quietly, and a synonym for modelled.  Open or unrestricted

16d    Marsh‘s eastern edge, in which stableman gets trapped (9)
EVERGLADE: E(astern) and an edge or border which contains a stable hand

18d    Spot aircraftsman climbing over 1ac? (7)
CALYPSO: Catch sight of and an abbreviation for a Leading aircraftsman all reversed (climbing, in a down clue) followed by O(ver).  Click for video

19d    Levers operated on time with little app (7)
SERVLET: This is a small program on an internet server, and an anagram (operated on) of LEVERS followed by T(ime)

22d    Amusing marionette’s boxed right (5)
DROLL: A model figure wrapped around (boxed) an abbreviation for right

24d    For seconds, fish, agreeably flavoured, lovingly cooked in house (5)
IGLOO: For seconds is here indicating that we are to look at the second letters of words in the clue: do that and see what pops out.  Cool!


Thank you for the music, Firefly.  I enjoyed the themed clues, especially 6d and 27a, and also the trio with a common thread of their own: 8a, 10d and 14d.  Which clue(s) chimed with you and made your heart sing?

I’m out all day, but will look forward to reading your comments upon my return.  “See” you this evening.  Play nicely!


33 comments on “Toughie 1698

  1. Enjoyed this one – not too difficult particularly once 1a was in (having started at the bottom with 27a that didn’t take long) but with a few that needed more thought and a couple of unfamiliar words (25a was new to me but fairly clued). I think it was also made easier because there are a lot of helpful crossers. Looking forward to meeting some of you (and catching up with others) in York.

    Thanks to Kitty and Firefly

  2. Many thanks Kitty for the musical illustrations and a terrific blog

    The perimeter clues went straight in which speeded up the puzzle and provided the theme. last quadrant was NE, where I had to go and look at a map. I eventually remembered the legal term but I had not come across this meaning of squanders. Not sure I’ve seen the little app before, but it had to be.

    I liked the anagram in 7d and the surface of 11a, as well as the various references to 1a.

    Many thanks Firefly for an entertaining puzzle

  3. I usually enjoy a themed puzzle and despite its relative straightforwardness, today’s Toughie was a welcome change from the norm. A pity that neither “deathgrind” nor “melodic metalcore” made the cluing cut but in spite of that a big thank you to Firefly for the puzzle and Kitty for her reliably entertaining hints and tips.

  4. Good afternoon Toughieistas.

    My second appearance here this week occasioned by a very early finish of the back page puzzle. Between two of us this wasn’t much harder although we both missed the obvious in retrospect 17a.


  5. I suppose I was overdue a Toughie that I really didn’t enjoy much (to compensate for the fact that I’m a dirty Manley-lover) – I found a lot of these clues and surfaces very fiddly and the theme didn’t particularly endear itself to me, 1ac failing to be a correct definition of any of the other words clued with reference to it, in my book. So a **/** in my book. Thanks Firefly and Kitty, see you all again tomorrow!

    1. You won’t see me tomorrow – I’ll be in York.

      (I will, however, be calling you a “dirty Manley-lover” when I do see you. Haha.)

  6. I’m afraid I found this all a bit 27a, 17a being the only one to raise a chuckle. Thanks nonetheless to Firefly and to Kitty for the blog. But why does it always have to be Harry Belafonte? Proper calypso [and cricket] fans could try this

    1. Sorry – I didn’t have time to thoroughly research music options. You’re lucky I didn’t choose this! Thanks for sharing your choice :).

  7. Enjoyable Toughie but where did the “d” come from in 21a? Many thanks to Kitty and Firefly

  8. Like the others here , I go the perimeter words fairly quickly, but had some difficulties.19d for example is something I never heard of so spotting the anagram didn’t help much.
    I have heard of 25 a but I hadn’t t a clue what it meant.
    Among my favourites are 3d, 10d and 16d.
    Thanks Kitty for putting me out of my agony ( I thought it was a bit harder than two stars ) and Firefly for a real Toughie.

  9. I normally run a long way as fast as possible when faced with a crossword that keeps referring back to one answer but I enjoyed this one.
    More than a 2* difficulty for me if only because it’s called a Toughie which does things to my frame of mind, however much I try to change that.
    Needless to say I’ve never heard of 19d and I didn’t know the 18d air craftsman but both were doable from the clue.
    I liked all the related clues.
    With thanks to Firefly and to Kitty – well done, very brave.

  10. I can’t tell you how long it took me to see 1A! When I did, some of my other answers made sense. Slow going for me and no clue marked as a particular favorite. 24D was the last in and another one that took ages. I did enjoy it, though. Thanks Firefly and Kitty.

  11. Just got back in from a day out with daughter – will try to work on this one tonight. Hard not to look at the blog because I know it will be full of Kitty’s trademarks!

  12. For some reason 1a went straight in to give us both the theme and plenty of starting letters so it was relatively plain- sailing for us. A few of obscurities to check, 4d, 19d and 25a but we had worked out what we thought they should be. We enjoyed it.
    Thanks Firefly and Kitty.

  13. Hi all, sleepy Kitty checking in. I’ve sorted out the omission in 21a – thanks. In my defence I had to prepare the blog before leaving at half past nine this morning, so had less time than usual. Realising at the last minute that I’d forgotten to do the underlining added a fun last-minute rush too. How fortunate it is that I have a nice relaxing weekend planned. Oh, wait …

    1. Forgetting to do the underlining is one of the reasons Mondays blogs are late. Poor old BD has to edit edit edit. I solved 1ac and gave up when I saw the number of 1acs mentioned in the clues. A Dearie Dearie Me puzzle.. Why on earth?

  14. Ahem. I must query the specific description in 26a of the Old Testament as the Christian bible.

    1. I was just going with Old Testament being the texts as called by Christians, where the Jewish name, for example, is different … but I’m happy to bow to greater knowledge.

      1. I have now looked up “Old Testament” in the ODE, which defines it as “The first part of the Christian Bible, comprising thirty-nine books and corresponding approximately to the Hebrew Bible.”

        1. I admit that the expression Old Testament postulates the existence of a New Testament, or they could just call it The Testament, which does mean the phrase must be of Christian origin. Still, it is, perhaps loosely, used by many Jews to mean the Hebrew bible.

          The word Torah applies only to the first five books. The whole canon of the “OT” is known as Tanach, a Hebrew acronym for Torah, Prophets and Writings.

          1. Sorry – I just checked Torah too, and discovered that it’s (mostly) used to mean just the first five books, so edited that bit.

            My thinking actually when specifying “Christian” Bible was that I had the idea that to refer to (what I thought – and I stand corrected – was) a purely Christian term for the books as simply part of as “The Bible” might imply that the Christian version is the “only” Bible. So I added it to allow that these books are religious texts for more people than just Christians … but that seems to have had exactly the opposite effect to that which I intended. Oh well. No offence meant – and, I trust, none taken?

    2. I was just going with Old Testament being the texts as called by Christians, where the Jewish name, for example, is the Torah, so nothing to do with “OT” … but I’m happy to bow to greater knowledge.

  15. I found a few clues rather tricky, which took me into 3* time. I liked 24d, though. Thanks to Firefly and Kitty.

  16. I struggled with this one – mostly I suspect because I just couldn’t get 1ac until well into the puzzle. Having got 27ac I was convinced Dire Straits or similar just had to be involved somewhere and kept trying to force in various album titles. That said I struggled on to the end, so it was certainly engaging enough.

  17. Nighty-night all. It’s time for an early one.

    My attendance over the next few days may be patchy, but I’ll be back before too long. :bye:

  18. Thanks to Firefly and to Kitty for the review and hints. Couldn’t make head or tail of this. Had no idea about 1a, so the rest of the puzzle was impossible. Needed 15 lookups to finish. Never heard of 25a & 4,5d. Was 6*/2* for me.

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