NTSPP – 373 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 373

NTSPP – 373

A Puzzle by Encota

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Encota makes his overdue debut in the NTSPP series.

Encota has had four puzzles in Rookie Corner, and one in The Listener, but this themed puzzle marks his NTSPP debut.  The theme relates to a song by our Monday blogger’s favourite Nobel Prize Winner, which was fairly obvious from the title of the puzzle and once 18a had been solved, there was no doubt at all.   I’ve had a look at the lyrics and some of the words in the clues and others in the solutions relate to the song, but there isn’t an easy way to mark them so you’ll just have to investigoogle and find them for yourselves.



1a           In the basement subject’s back is broken (4)
BUST A reversed lurker can be found in basemenT SUBject

3a           Technocrat redesigned waterproof (6,4)
TRENCH COAT An anagram (redesigned) of TECHNOCRAT

9a           Special constable confronting topless hooligan’s shame (7)
SCANDAL The abbreviation for Special Constable confronting or going in front of a hooligan without its first letter (topless).  Nice use of lyrics here!

11a         Wrongly claimed for check-up (7)
MEDICAL An anagram (wrongly) of CLAIMED

12a         Rent covers current book and child’s toy (5,4)
TEDDY BEAR A synonym for rent ‘covers’ a current of water and the abbreviation for book.  Google Images really take notice of what you search for – putting in this solution to get my second image for this review gave me the option of it wearing a 3a!

13a         An antelope or two born within (5)
ORIBI OR (from the clue) and the Roman numeral for two, in between which (within) goes the abbreviation for born

14a         Those not in blue might wear these simple dresses (5-7)
PLAIN-CLOTHES A synonym for simple and some [female] garments (clothes)

18a         Underground train ran near tubes? (12)

21a         Old American detective following maps (5)
AZTEC An informal name for a detective follows a particular type of book of maps

22a         Familiar knotted casting on (9)
COGNISANT An anagram (knotted) of CASTING ON

24a         Positive help out of condition’s requited (4,3)
PAID OFF The abbreviation for Positive, some help, and an adjective meaning out of condition

25a         Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine’s sound on telephone duct’s entrance? (7)
MANHOLE Nice earworm clue!  The word that goes after Mr and Tambourine in the Dylan song followed by a homophone (on the telephone) of an adjective meaning sound in the sense of complete

26a         Fish for one in raw methane spillage (10)
WEATHERMAN D’Oh moment of the day when you realise which particular ‘Fish’ we are looking for here.  An anagram (spillage) of RAW METHANE

27a         Initially a regiment may yield part of this (4)
ARMY A Regiment May Yield initially


1d           Kiss at old nuns’ boarding places (3,5)
BUS STOPS A rude or playful kiss and an obsolete meaning of the word nun, here needing an S on the end ‘nuns’

2d           Good man and U.S. lawman Garrett refuse to change (5,3)
STAND PAT An abbreviation for a good man, AND (from the clue) and the Christian name of the Sheriff best known for killing Billy the Kid

4d           Square dance lacking court’s distant groove (5)
RILLE Remove the court(yard) from a square dance for four couples or more and you are left with a narrow furrow found on the surface of the Moon or Mars (distant groove)

5d           One in a quarter? (9)
NUMERATOR The term for the upper number in a vulgar fraction such as one quarter

6d           In theory go and spread oil’s hardening? (13)
HYDROGENATION The BRB’s explanation of the solution is too long to copy here but it relates to the hardening of oils!  An anagram (spread) of IN THEORY GO AND

7d           Flower Tolkien’s ogre kept out of sight (6)
ORCHID I haven’t read any Tolkien but I do know the name of the ogre or miserable goblin (they turn up in crosswords regularly) which should be followed by part of a verb meaning kept out of sight

8d           Endlessly stalking leads to intensive discussion (4-2)
TALK-IN Simply remove the ends from sTALKINg

10d         He leaves raucous lunch with The Prodigy to use this kitchen towel (6-2,5)
DRYING-UP CLOTH An anagram (raucous) of LUNCH T[he} PRODIGY – the clue tells you that HE ‘leaves’ .  Yes, the illustration is an example of the solution – obviously perfectly designed for the crossword blogger needing an illustration.

15d         If absorbed by musical performance raised latex-filled plant cells (9)
LATICIFER IF (from the clue) ‘absorbed’ into a reversed (raised) musical performance

16d         Tangled up in blue boar: beat soundly (8)
BELABOUR – An anagram (tangled up) of BLUE BOAR

17d         Too much energy exchanged at first in contemptuous filthiness (8)
SNOTTERY Take a word meaning contemptuous and replace the first E (Energy first exchanged) with the three letters used to indicate that something is too much

19d         Two-foot fruit tree? (3-3)
PAW-PAW Two lots of an animal’s clawed foot

20d         Mobile phone company primarily involves US city’s barbaric leader (6)
ATTILA The initials of a mobile phone company, the ‘primary’ letter of Involves, and the abbreviation for the crossword setter’s favourite helpful  American West Coast City

23s         Old lady supports rise of magazine of the third grade (5)
GAMMA An informal word for mother (old lady) ‘supports’ or goes under a reversal (rise) of an abbreviated magazine

37 comments on “NTSPP – 373

  1. Thanks to Encota for the entertainment. It all came together pretty well although I had to check a few answers in the BRB. I suspect that I’ve missed quite a lot of the theme. My favourite is 5d.

  2. I was three-quarters through before the penny dropped. I have 10 themed answers, but I confess to having help from Google to get some of them. A couple of new-to-me words also needed verification and I have a couple more yet to fully parse. 14A is my favorite. Thanks, Encota.

  3. I really liked this – thanks, Encota. Being barely 22a of the theme did not really hinder.

    The 1d old nun, 13a and 15d were new, and I’d forgotten 4d so that took longer than it should have. Those I could get from wordplay, but after staring awhile I cheated to get the second word of 2d and also 17d.

    My favourites are 5d and 19d – cute!

  4. Encota this was great – know the song well, i used to sing it

    enjoyed finding 18a – not sure you need the qm

    The puzzle was a lot of fun to solve – plenty of aha moments.

    i don’t think I’ve parsed 25a and 17d correctly – the penny may drop later

    not sure the link in 14a works, and ‘in’ doesn’t seem to fit cryptically in 16a.

    loi was 4d

    Many thanks – a good one

  5. Well – that certainly ran from one extreme to the other! Think I encountered about five new words plus an unknown US phrase at one end of the scale and then rather cringed over the likes of 10d at the other end.

    Plenty to enjoy from which my top picks were 7&19d.

    Thank you, Encota – I now have a couple of ear-worms that will be with me all day – neither of them relating to MP’s favourite artiste!

  6. Similar comments to Jane’s, but as well as a US phrase we also had a US mobile phone company to contend with. Like Dutch, 4d was my last one in and I can’t parse 17d.

    I don’t think 22a works (although a thesaurus may well disagree). In my book the answer is similar to but not synonymous with “familiar”, e.g.: “c……. of” is equivalent to “familiar with“.

    Lots to like here though, and 19d was my favourite, with 5d & 7d running it close.

    Many thanks, Encota, for an enjoyable challenge.

    1. That US phrase was unknown to me too, not being the gambling kind, but since I knew the celebrated Mr. Garrett it was not a hold-up.

      1. Fortunately I knew both the phrase and Mr. Garrett (as well as the phone company), but I can never miss the opportunity to mention US references.

  7. Great puzzle. Ashamed to admit that I’m a bit too young to get the intricacies of the theme without some sneaky Googling. Favourite clues were 3A, 5D, 18A & 19D. Thanks, Encota.

    1. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, Hassle. A lot of us would give our eye-teeth to be able to say that!

  8. When I haven’t been battling with nettles, brambles and ground elder today I’ve been battling with this one.
    I still have five that I can’t get and a few more that I don’t understand but will carry on the battle a bit later.
    I just popped in to say how much I loved 19d – it really made me laugh which is more than the previously mentioned weeds have done.
    Back later or tomorrow but, in the meantime, thanks to Encota and congratulations on the ‘promotion’ and thanks also to whoever is doing the review – ?CS.

    1. PS – Oh, I forgot about the theme – will have to have a bit of a hunt – maybe it’ll help me with my missing answers.

  9. Well we have got the puzzle solved but are still lost as to what the theme is all about. Several needed a check in BRB and Mrs B and luckily we remembered the 26a Fish from a previous crossword. Still a few bits to parse but they will have to wait until after our morning walk.
    Thanks for the fun Encota.

    1. A bit of post-puzzle Googling has exposed the theme for us. Not something we had previously encountered. This will probably see us removed from a certain publican’s Christmas card list. :smile:

  10. Hi Encota,

    Congratulations on your NTSPP debut. Like RD, my favourite was 19d.

  11. Thanks Encota, good debut.

    I realised fairly early on what the theme was, but that wasn’t much help!

    The BRB had to come to my rescue for ‘old nun.’

    I liked the ‘Fish’ in 26, which completely fooled me and, of course, 19d.

    If you like this, you might enjoy the tribute at:

    – Paul once used this for a few phrases in a Guardian crossword.

  12. I did eventually finish this one but my last few took ages and there were some answers I didn’t understand so thanks CS for sorting things out.
    Also thanks again to Encota.

  13. After doing Tramps Dylan themed puzzle in The Grauniad and this one today I am now all themed out. I could have enjoyed finding musical clips for this puzzle. Just a month to wait until I see the great man again. Thanks to Encota for the puzzle and to the blogger for several bits of help.

    1. Jealous! I saw him at the amazing Blackbushe aerodrome festival in the late 70s(?). Most memorable for the fact that it really isn’t often that you get to see someone like Eric Clapton merely as a warm-up / support act!

  14. Thanks CS for the review and to all who commented. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    For fans of our recent Nobel Prize Winner (who collected his award today, I think), many of his references will stand out – including those directly lifted from the featured song. For those less familiar, knowing he also did the soundtrack for the film Mr. Garrett and Billy The Kid may be of interest, as well as the song Tangled Up In Blue, written for his wife Sarah, if I remember rightly and perhaps one of the most moving songs ever written. I also used to live near the Blue Boar in Cambridge, so perhaps that clue’s surface might look odder to some than it does to me :-)

    If you haven’t recently seen the ‘video’ film that came with the song of this puzzle, I do encourage you to seek it out on youtube. To think this was twenty years or so before what would be called the first modern-day pop video and MTV makes it particularly stunning, I think!

    I tried to extend the musical theme too, though I agree that including The Prodigy might have been pushing it slightly too far!

    But I hope you’d expect nothing less from a music-obsessed crossword setter. After all, there can’t be many setters who can claim their pseudonym to be derived from a lesser-known song (Octane Twisted) from an obscure prog rock band (Porcupine Tree).



    1. Saint Sharon and I went to The Savoy Theatre recently and upon leaving managed to locate the site where the film clip was recorded. That put a smile upon my face. Allen Ginsberg who can be seen in the background has a book out this week. The Best Minds of My Generation by Allen Ginsberg Not bad for a dead bloke.

      1. I hadn’t realised it was filmed near there! I may well repeat your trip to said Alleyway when in London in a couple of weeks time – a bit more subtle than an Abbey Road zebra crossing any day. Thanks for the info :-)

  15. A day late, but I really enjoyed this – many thanks ‘Octane Twisted’.
    I’m a big fan of St Bob and of this song and of the album – which curiously was released on vinyl in UK as ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ but then when it came out on CD was renamed ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. Other countries may vary!
    Heavy on anagrams – which is not normally to my taste, but I didn’t mind too much this time. Maybe because the Michael Fish one was very clever, the Medical one (almost a ‘medicine’ link to the song) is a goodie because there’s decimal and declaim there too, and then I enjoyed 6d which presented two equally plausible sets of anagam fodder, so I kind of ran them side by side until the crossers helped me out.
    Prolixic didn’t mind the following, but personally I would question these: the enumeration in 19d; extra word ‘the’ in the 1a hidden; ‘initially a’ in 27a; and ‘topless’ for an across clue in 9a. None of which spoilt the fun though – many thanks and keep ’em coming – I love your puzzles!

    1. Prolixic might well have minded some of the quibbles you raise – but as Encota is a published setter, I was the one who prepared the review.

      I queried the 19d enumeration – you’d be surprised how many different ways of enumerating the fruit there are.

      1. Sorry Sue – credit where it’s due :)
        BRB & Collins have 19d as one word, but you’re right that (3,3) and (3-3) do exist elsewhere.

  16. Many thanks for the review, CS – glad I was able to complete the puzzle without having to extend my knowledge of the theme!
    You’ve reminded me that I intended to look into the ‘old nuns’ – will do it now before I forget again.

    PS 4d answer needs a tweak when you’ve finished helping Mr. CS in the garden!

    1. Many hours later…. tree down and chopped up – and I’ve corrected the ‘one I left for Jane to find’ ;)

        1. Today’s willow and the other ones along the edge of a field have been left at just under 5 feet, so that they can spring up again. They had to be dealt with as the top branches were quite dead and if they’d fallen onto a car or person on a horse etc passing by, it wouldn’t have been good.

          1. And willows can fall. We had a huge bough fall on a main road in our village but luckily only blocking a road.

      1. Deliberate mistakes are fun. Don’t mess with the hints. They should be sacrosanct. The pickiest and the musical hints provide endless opportunities

  17. Thanks to CS for the review.

    Btw, Encota, I didn’t realise that this was your first ntspp. Assumed there had been others. Congrats – and thanks again.

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