NTSPP – 378 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 378

NTSPP – 378

A Puzzle by Hasslethymi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review by Prolixic follows.

A suite composition from Hasslethymi with lots of movement in the clues (though undoubtedly a few too many anagrams).


1 Witch doctor treated main endemic (8,3)
MEDICINE MAN – An anagram (treated) of MAIN ENDEMIC.

7 Rip jute sacking to get 14 notes? (7)
JUPITER – An anagram (sacking) of RIP JUTE.

8 Buried in tremor on ice that’s thick (7)
MORONIC – The answer is hidden (buried) in TREMOR ON ICE.

10 Song of Schubert perhaps bore false witness (4)
LIED – Double definition, the first being the German for a type of song.

11 14’s peacemaker envious after Zeus’ lover is rejected? Weird! (5)
VENUS – An anagram (weird) of ENVIOUS after removing (rejected) IO (Zeus’ lover).

12 Identify summits in the rear-view mirror (4)
SPOT – Reverse (in the rear view mirror) a word meaning summits.

15 Nazi leader comes after another seamy sycophant (3-3)
YES-MAN – An anagram (another) of SEAMY followed by the first letter (leader) of Nazi.

16 Warhead caught in tangled ropes – magic! (6)
POWERS – The first letter (head) of war inside an anagram (tangled) of ROPES.

17 Magician of 14 managed university in America (6)
URANUS – A three letter word meaning managed and the abbreviation for university inside the abbreviation for America.

19 Compound is linked to the fall of Rome (6)
ISOMER – The IS from the clue followed (linked to) by an anagram (fall of) ROME.

23 Mother of 17 or 24? (4)
GAIA – Double definition, the first being from Greek mythology and the second being a new-age concept of our planet being an integrated complex entity. 

24 Overlooked by 14? Heartbroken! (5)
EARTH – An anagram (broken) of EARTH.

25 Cut wheat? (4)
CROP – Double definition, although very closely related as the second relied on the fact that the first is how it is harvested.

28 Massage at sushi blowout (7)
SHIATSU – An anagram (blowout) of AT SUSHI.

29 Writer sent back composition, one of 14 (7)
NEPTUNE – Reverse (sent back) of word for a writing instrument and follow it with a word for a composition or piece of music.

30 Studying 21, for example? Try on Google, maybe (11)
GERONTOLOGY – An anagram (maybe) of TRY ON GOOGLE. In the theme, 21 is the bringer of old age.


1 Animal is one of those that’s winding up temps (7)
MUPPETS – An anagram (winding) of UP TEMPS.

2 May 14, for example, begin to dictate a note? (4)
DATE – The first letter (being to – this should be beginning to) of date followed by the A from the clue and a two letter musical note.

3 Crooked victor smoked outside (6)
CURVED – A word meaning smoked (as a kipper might be) around (outside) the abbreviation for Victor.

4 Cloud nine initially added to setter’s transport (6)
NIMBUS – The first letter (initially) of nine followed by a word meaning “the setter is” and a type of public transport vehicle.

5 Hurts 14’s warmonger (4)
MARS – Double definition, the second being the representation of the planet in the theme.

6 No joke to be shown up by the French, like the planets until very recently (7)
NONUPLE – The NO from the clue followed by three letter word for a joke reversed (shown up) and the French masculine form for “the”.

7 Jungle fly devastated American mushroom (5,6)
JELLY FUNGUS – An anagram (devastated) of JUNGLE FLY followed by a two letter abbreviation for American.  As America has already been used to clue the letters, perhaps one of the clues should have used a different indicator.

9 Calamity kitty finds a way to get her head caught in string (11)
CATASTROPHE – The name of a domestic pet (kitty) followed (finds) by the A from the clue and the abbreviation for street and the first letter (head) of her inside (caught in) a word for a thick piece of string.  As an aside, one of Firefly’s best clues was in Toughie 416, “Fondle a thicker thong?”

13 Article dipped in gravy for brother of 21 (5)
JANUS – Put AN (article) in a three letter posh word for gravy.

14 Composer had originally lost out (5)
HOLST – The first letter (originally) of had followed by an anagram (out) of LOST.

18 Setting in a ring is forged (7)
ARISING – An anagram (forged) of A RING IS.

20 14 work for Freddie, perhaps (7)
MERCURY – Double definition, the second being the lead singer for Ray T’s favourite group.

21 Piece of 14 placed on vase (6)
SATURN – A three letter word meaning placed followed by (on in a down clue) a three letter word for a vase.

22 Flipping fools knock out drunk (6)
STINKO – Reverse a four letter word for fools and follow it with the abbreviation for knock-out.

26 5, 7A, 11, 17, 20, 21, 24 & 29 are influenced by one rotter’s comeuppance… (4)
STAR – Reverse (comeuppance) a word meaning “rotter’s”.

27 …until Pluto eccentrically leaves orbital extremity (2,2)
UP TO – Remove the O (orbital extremity) from PLUTO an make an anagram (eccentrically) of the letters that remain.

34 comments on “NTSPP – 378

  1. Thanks H., nice setting to get all the themed answers in.

    Once 14 was revealed it somewhat gave the game away but still very enjoyable. I didn’t know 17d but easy enough to check the answer.

    I’m not sure I’m parsing 1d correctly; should it be ‘animal’s?’

    My favourite was 30.

    1. Thank you for solving and glad you enjoyed it. Knew it would be one where the link was pretty easy to get, but none the less fun to do the setting!

      For 1D, I was thinking of the definition as ‘Animal is one of those’.

      Glad you liked 30 – was worried that might be a bit too tangential, definition-wise. Will be interesting to hear what others think.

    2. I thought ‘animal is one of those’ was the definition, fine by me, no need to invoke ‘s.
      Animal is a character in the show the answer describes.

  2. A user-friendly theme, plus the related “extras” made this most enjoyable. I particularly liked 24A (my favorite), 23A and 1D. I do have question marks by 30A and 18D that will no doubt make me want to kick myself tomorrow. Thanks Hasslythymi.

    1. Thanks, Chris. Glad you liked it. 30A and 18D were particularly sneaky of me (see above post), so am not surprised that they caused problems!

  3. This was very enjoyable and it’s quite a feat to include all the themed references.

    I realise that many of the answers are not easy to clue without resorting to anagrams, but I did feel that fourteen in one puzzle was far too many unfortunately.

    A nice diversion for a Saturday lunchtime, many thanks Ashley.

    1. Thank you. Yes, I’m working on reducing the reliance on anagrams. Fewer in my regular crosswords nowadays, but this was a tricky one!

  4. Many thanks H.

    Congratulations on an excellent puzzle. The theme helped me get a few of the clues, which made it fun. There were a few tangential clues but overall it was great. bit of a hole in the middle of the grid.

    I thought the anagrams were good and the clueing was accurate

    Many thanks again

    1. Thanks v much. Glad you liked it. Hole in the middle was my attempt at getting the sun into the middle of it, tho admittedly that’s not easy to do with black squares!!!

  5. Well done indeed for getting all the themed answers to slot in without having to resort to a welter of obscurities! I enjoyed working through this one and liked the way you added in a few extra nods to the main theme.
    Like Chris, I’m not at all sure that I’ve fully justified the answers to 30a & 18d – no doubt it will all become clear when the review appears tomorrow.

    24a gets my vote from amongst the assembled bodies but my absolute favourite was 9d. Hope Kitty checks that one out!

    Thanks again, Ash – looking forward to the next one.

  6. One of the fastest fill-ins of all time – once one domino’s down the rest fall more or less immediately, which cracks open the rest of the grid – but no less enjoyable for it. Lots of great clues, but 9d was my favourite for the cute surface. Thanks and well done!

  7. Cracking grid fill. Having the composer in there, was a nice twist to the theme, and so was the clue for 24a. I see poor old Pluto got relegated to the supporting role of clue fodder in 27d – another nice touch. Wish I’d spotted the shape of the Sun there – excellent – and the planets are not far off being arranged inner and outer, in a manner corresponding to some propitious date, perhaps…
    Favourite clues were, apart from 24a already mentioned, 17a, 3d and 6d.
    I do hope next time you’ll manage to limit the number of anagrams; personally my heat sinks rather when there are more than five or so, but I do accept that some solvers can’t get enough of them.

    1. Thanks, Maize. Glad you liked it. I’ll certainly aim to limit the anagrams next time – until now I haven’t tended to keep a tally of the types of clue I’m putting in when I’m setting, so I don’t notice if I’ve got too many of one type. Will aim to keep an eye on that in future, as there are certainly too many anagrams here now that I look at it with an objective eye.

      1. Thanks :) I regularly visit this blog,but this is the 1st time I posted a comment.Thanks to Hasslethymi :)

        1. Hi LV,
          Hope you’ll pop in again. Your choice of blog name amused me – LV being, for a lot of us ‘oldies’, a reminder of the days when employers offered Luncheon Vouchers to their staff. Salaries at the time were often quoted as being – X amount per week/month plus LVs.
          Loved the avatar you used – where was the photograph taken?

          1. LV – I don’t know that it stands for Luncheon Vouchers :D My name is Lakshmi. V is my initial. Am an Indian :) Hope you know the meaning of Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth in Hindu mythology.
            The picture was taken at Kanyakumari, Tamilnadu, India.

            1. I did wonder whether you were overseas and wouldn’t have the faintest idea about Luncheon Vouchers!
              What a lovely name you have – I do hope that Lakshmi smiles kindly upon you.

  8. Greetings to Big Dave and all other friends. Returning to the blog after a long time. I enjoyed solving this puzzle after learning about it elsewhere. Completed in some *****, with top left delayed a bit.

  9. We’ve been away from puzzles for a few days but this one was a priority for us when we got home today. It all slotted nicely together once we had spotted the theme and good fun all the way. We thought the grid looked a bit odd but now we read your explanation it all makes sense.
    Thanks Hasslethymi.

  10. This was light, bright, and lots of fun. I did utter incredulously “surely not another anagram!” more than once, but with a smile.

    Jane is quite right – my favourite is 9d.

    Thanks to Hasslethymi for the music, and thanks to Prolixic for the review.

  11. Thanks to all for the positive and encouraging comments, and especially to Prolixic for the brilliant and thorough review. I’ll certainly work on my tendency towards the anagram clue in future and look forward to creating more for your solving pleasure in future.

    All the best,


  12. The theme of this crossword really appealed to me., Hasslethymi. I thought you wove it into the clues very well, even though there was rather a lot of anagrams. Mind you, I didn’t mind that…

    The clues I liked most were 24a, 12a, 11a, 2d, 9d and 26d. The one clue that puzzled me was 18d. From the wordplay, it had to be what the correct answer is. I checked in Chambers, but for me, the answer doesn’t match up with my own concept of ‘setting’. I live and learn!

    Big thanks and very well done, Hasslethymi for what was a very entertaining and enjoyable puzzle. Big thanks, too, to Prolixic for the excellent review.

    1. Thanks, @Catnap. Glad that you had some fun with it!

      Have explained 18D in the post below >>>

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Like Catnap, I’m still struggling to get from ‘setting’ to ‘arising’ in 18d – maybe Hasslethymi could help us with that one?

    1. ‘Setting in’ is the definition for ‘arising’, as in ‘Despair is setting in amongst the soldiers’. (That was me being a bit sneaky trying to get the setter to anagram ‘IN A RING’ rather than ‘A RING IS’.)

      1. Very sneaky indeed! Now it does make sense. Thanks so much for the explanation, Hasslethymi. Much appreciated.

      2. Thank you! Must admit that I did think of ‘setting in’ (having eventually realised that ‘in’ wasn’t part of the anagram fodder!) but still hadn’t made the connection to ‘arising’ – I was pondering over precious stones set into rings!

  14. Great theme and very pleasant solve.
    23 and 24a joint favourite.
    Thanks to Hasslethymi and to Prolixic.

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