NTSPP – 362
A Puzzle by Knut
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
This week’s NTSPP setter, Knut, uses other ursine-related aliases to provide topical current affairs related cryptic crosswords for both the Independent and the FT. We are extremely fortunate that this particularly splendid puzzle is being published here on Big Dave’s blog.
At first sight, you’d imagine you were solving a puzzle themed on a childhood favourite song, with a slight detour to an Eagles 1977 hit, but if you look carefully enough you’ll see that the theme actually relates to the person in the news, fake or otherwise, across the Pond.
I was going to mark all the relevant clues, but instead I hope Expat Chris won’t mind, but I’ve “borrowed” her explanatory comment: Trump’s victory was certainly 24D and the result might 11A those on the other 27D who now hold a big 10A, but the party of the 14A prevailed and those who said “not on your 12A” are the losers. The revelation of the 26A payment to a hostile foreign power didn’t help. It’s a 21A out there and may the best man win, as the 21D and stateless 7D might say.
Thank you very much to Knut for an excellent and delightful Saturday afternoon diversion, now if only I could stop singing that song.
8a Total Wipeout time? Absolutely! (7)
ERASURE A period of time and another way of saying absolutely
9a Silly egg-chaser often seen with a pint (6)
CUCKOO An informal adjective meaning silly; a bird that is well-known for its egg-laying activities, although I’m not sure what ‘chasing’ has to do with it. The reference to ‘often seen with a pint’ is that if you put the solution with the word PINT, you get a type of plant we also call Lords and Ladies
10a Government urged to review entrenched position (6)
GRUDGE The abbreviation for Government followed by an anagram (to review) of URGED
11a Finish cooking the meat Prudence spoiled (5,3)
BROWN OFF The surname of a Chancellor of the Exchequer who balanced his budget ‘with prudence’ and another way of saying spoiled or bad
12a Woman born about ’50, ’51? (6)
NELLIE An adjective meaning born, used when stating a woman’s maiden name goes about the Roman numerals for fifty and fifty-one. Apparently the ‘woman’ in the musical theme was ‘born’ in ‘LVI
14a The plane crashed; was it a jumbo? (8)
ELEPHANT An anagram (crashed) of THE PLANE
16a She‘s regularly hiding during air raids (4)
IRIS She can be found hiding in the regular letters of aIr RaIdS
18a Mascherano’s first half injury creates a huge gap (5)
CHASM An anagram (injury) of the first half of MASCHerano. A good surface reading if you are a football fan as you’d know that Javier Mascherano is an Argentinian footballer who also plays for FC Barcelona
19a Military band displayed by The Regiment, first in Hereford (4)
SASH The abbreviation for a particular army regiment based in Hereford plus the first letter of Hereford
20a Italian master‘s Lorna Do one translation “not on” (8)
LEONARDO – An anagram (translation) of LORNA DO
ONE, without (not) the word ON
21a It’s tough to get through golf league in early summer (6)
JUNGLE The letter represented by Golf in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and the abbreviation for League go inside one of the early summer months
23a Equalised, like the 21a after 12 the 14a has passed? (8)
LEVELLED If you’ve already solved 21a, 12a and 14a, the second part of the clue will surely make you smile
26a Hip, California special hotel (no credit cards) (2,4)
IN CASH Another way of saying hip or fashionable, and the abbreviations for the State of California, Special and Hotel. Another song opportunity if you don’t fancy getting stuck singing the themed one!
28a He flies first class for a jolly Antiguan vacation (6)
AIRMAN – the two letters used to indicate first class, the abbreviation for the type of serviceman known as a ‘jolly’ and the outside letters (after vacation) of AntiguaN
29a Stone me! Messenger is about to lose his head! (7)
EMERALD The messenger loses his head and then goes ‘about’ ME (from the clue) [Thanks Dutch]
1d Leaves the king a drop? (4)
TEAR Leaves used to make a hot drink and the abbreviation for Rex (king)
2d A round of applause for the Spanish composer (6)
HANDEL A round of applause and the Spanish definite article
3d “It’s not present in Farage’s DNA” O’Neill (6)
EUGENE Split the Christian name of Mr O’Neill the American playwright 2, 4, and you’ll ‘get’ the first part of the clue – another ‘make you smile’ piece of wordplay
4d It’s used to flavour American ice, not having solidified on the outside (4)
HERB Remove a synonym for solidified (not having solidified) from the outside of an American water ice -something I had to check as to me the word is something I’d enjoy as part of a xxxxxxx Dib-Dab!
5d Outer layer of newly-formed red comet (8)
ECTODERM An outer layer of cells comes from an anagram (newly-formed) of RED COMET
6d Leaves a loo in this way? (8)
ACANTHUS A (from the clue), a slang word for the loo and an adverb meaning in this way
7d Remove Cambridge degree from disgraced Ponzi salesman (4)
MADOFF Remove the abbreviation for a postgraduate degree from the surname of a disgraced Ponzi salesman. At Cambridge, and Oxford too, these degrees are awarded without the need for further examinations – I know because one of my nephews just got one from Oxford. I too wondered about Cambridge MA (Massachusetts) but apart from showing my knowledge American cities, it doesn’t really help solve the clue.
13d I take Jane out to see Where Eagles Dare (5)
EYRIE I (from the clue) inserted into the surname of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane
14d Sheraton accommodates poetic inspiration (5)
ERATO The muse of lyric/love/erotic (depending on where you look her up!) poetry is ‘accommodated by’ or lurking in ShERATOn
15d Los Angeles hospital elevates type of care central to ENT dept (5)
NASAL A reversal (elevates in a Down clue) of the abbreviation for Los Angeles and an abbreviated way of referring to a type of hospital.
17d Raise in conversation old cars (8)
SUNBEAMS A homophone (in conversation) of RAISE should make you think of some RAYS which just happen to be the name of old British cars
18d No racial abuse in this state! (8)
CAROLINA An anagram (abuse) of NO RACIAL
21d Flipping famous cook- Japanese put one in jug (6)
JAILED A reversal (flipping) of a famous TV cook and the abbreviation for Japanese
22d Midlands expo pitch for sweet drink (6)
NECTAR The abbreviation for a Midlands exhibition centre and another word for pitch in the sense of a bituminous substance
24d Amazing story in regular instalments of Red Prince (4)
EPIC The regular ‘instalments’ of rEd PrInCe
25d Pulled the Duke of York, without an introduction! (4)
DREW Remove the letters AN at the start of the Christian name of the Duke of York
27d Team is on the way up, qualified finally for Europe (4)
SIDE A reversal (on the way up) of IS from the clue, followed by the final letter of qualifieD and the abbreviation for Europe
I hope everyone spotted the Nina and sang along while solving the puzzle. If you’ve forgotten some of the words and fancy a bit of a sing on this very cold wet day, then you’ll find help here: