Toughie 2395 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2395

Toughie No 2395 by Musaeus

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

Yesterday’s Toughie was generally acknowledged to be pretty easy so how does one rate the difficulty of this one which is even easier?

There are two clues here where the definitions are given as underlined blanks – I don’t like this much, not least because it because it makes the blogger’s job of underlining the definition impossible. Many years ago when there were occasionally quotations in clues the required word would often be left blank and underlined (as in “Now is the ________ of our discontent”). However that type of clue has virtually disappeared and I don’t see why the relevant clues here can’t have a proper definition. Your views would be welcome – let’s have a mass debate as the late Mrs Merton used to say.

Thanks to Musaeus.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Place like Massachusets could be gas (6)
PLASMA: stick together the abbreviation for place in street names, a synonym of ‘like’ and the usual abbreviation for the US State. A spelling mistake in the first clue is rather a poor start.

5a Completely with one featuring in Carry On Muse (8)
CALLIOPE: an adverb meaning completely and the Roman numeral for one go inside a verb to carry on or get by.

9a Old at sea recline around an ___ ___ (5,5)
OCEAN LINER: the abbreviation for old is followed by an anagram (at sea) of RECLINE containing AN.

10a Crack geezer (4)
CHAP: double definition, the first a verb to crack (one’s skin in cold weather, for example).

11a Train on vehicle which won’t bring you back (8)
REHEARSE: a prefix meaning on or concerning and a vehicle on which you can’t book a return ticket.

12a Reprimand French and complain upfront (6)
CARPET: the French word for ‘and’ preceded by a verb to complain or beef.

13a Parasite initially found close to meadow (4)
FLEA: the initial letter of ‘found’ and a grassy area.

15a Document is left after change (8)
PASSPORT: what’s left at sea comes after a verb to change or convert.

18a Nurse, single, getting over chap from La-La Land? (8)
ANGELENO: glue together a metaphor for a nurse and the reverse of a word meaning single or unique.

19a Ordinary writer is generally accessible (4)
OPEN: the abbreviation for ordinary and a writing implement.

21a Moneylender‘s safe in old city (6)
USURER: put an adjective meaning safe or secure into our usual old Biblical city.

23a Cool Bordeaux bottles? One is blown (8)
CLARINET: an adjective meaning cool or trendy is contained in a type of Bordeaux wine.

25a Caught by a Red Cap in ____? (4)
CAMP: string together the crickety abbreviation for caught, A and the abbreviation for a Red Cap (one who enforces discipline in the forces).

26a Badger-hunter knowing trail around Australia (7,3)
SAUSAGE DOG: an adjective meaning knowing or wise and a verb to trail contain an abbreviation for Australia. The formal name of the answer means badger hound in German.

27a Dwelling on upland pasture is bombed (4,4)
FELL FLAT: a place to live follows an upland pasture (especially one in the Lake District).

28a Title about bohemian believer to the end (6)
MARTYR: a male title contains an informal adjective meaning bohemian.

Down Clues

2d It could be filthy, it could be cruel (5)
LUCRE: an anagram (could be) of CRUEL.

3d Dizzy agent blocking similar soubriquet (5,4)
STAGE NAME: an anagram (dizzy) of AGENT is inserted into an adjective meaning similar or matching.

4d Lead on aluminium bait that’s artificial (6)
ALLURE: charade of the chemical symbol for aluminium and an artificial bait used in angling.

5d Do coax from date this disobedience (8,2,5)
CONTEMPT OF COURT: fuse together a verb to do or swindle, a verb to coax or entice, a synonym of ‘from’ and a verb to date or woo. I can’t see why ‘this’ is in the clue – the surface would be better without it.

6d Busily sit with Cyril being poet? (8)
LYRICIST: an anagram (busily) of SIT and CYRIL.

7d Suffer rotter batting first (5)
INCUR: another word for a rotter or cad is preceded by a cricket term meaning currently batting.

8d E.g. earth bank cut back forming feature of city park (5,4)
PLANE TREE: what the Earth is an example of is followed by a word for a bank or sandbar without its final letter. I wondered about ‘city park’ but a bit of investigoogling revealed that these are very common in London, especially in the city’s parks.

14d Prospect in new places, collecting too (9)
LANDSCAPE: an anagram (new) of PLACES contains a conjunction meaning ‘too’ or ‘as well as’.

16d Make a quick buck for, well, alway (9)
PROFITEER: bind together a prefix meaning for or ‘in favour of’, an adjective meaning well and an old word for always (to match alway, which is also archaic).

17d Rare slip upset quid pro quo (8)
REPRISAL: an anagram (upset) of RARE SLIP.

20d From Uppsala, a mighty welcome (6)
SALAAM: hidden in the clue.

22d Drive back social outcast that must be put up (5)
REPEL: reverse a social outcast.

24d Shifting Earl to the north, Napoleon gains key wood (5)
EBONY: start with a nickname for Napoleon and shift the abbreviation for earl northwards to get a type of wood used for piano keys.

The clues I liked best here were 11a (good bit of dark humour), 18a and 27a. Which one(s) featured on your jukebox?


24 comments on “Toughie 2395

  1. Hmm.

    It seems a long time since we have seen a Musaeus puzzle and I can’t remember what I thought on the last occasion.

    I found this one very much a curate’s egg. Most of the clues were straightforward, a few were decidedly odd and a handful were genuinely tough. Similarly some of the surfaces were fine and some were very dodgy.

    I agree with Gazza about not liking blanks as definitions. Why not just replace “an ___ ___” in 9a with “this”?

    I assumed “alway” in 16d was a typo until I read Gazza’s review. I don’t equate “same” with “similar”, and is “change” really a synonym for “pass”?

    My favourite was 11a.

    Thanks to Musaeus and to Gazza.

    1. The seventh meaning of ‘pass’ in the BRB is ‘to undergo change from one state to another’.

      1. Thanks, Gazza. I can’t think how you would actually use in that context in practice. Are you able to offer an example sentence?

        1. Substance x can pass from a solid to a gas at n degrees. I can’t give a more specific example because my chemistry knowledge is minimal.

          1. x = water – I know it’s a liquid, but not many true solids evaporate readily
            n = 100 deg (or more under pressure) = steam – the invisible bit, not the recondensed stuff we can see. That assumes that vapour is the same as a gas?

          2. Thanks and well done, Gazza. As LbR says, it is quite rare for a substance to change directly from a solid state to a gaseous state. This process is known as sublimation which is defined as “the transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gaseous state, without passing through the liquid state”. QED!

            The most common example of sublimation involves Dry Ice (frozen carbon dioxide) which changes directly to carbon dioxide gas at room temperature.

  2. There are plenty of camps that have nothing to do with the military and plenty of plane trees that are not in city parks. I would say that 8d is poorly defined and 25a not defined at all.

    I agree that blanks are not great but I also dislike the increasingly popular use of “this” as a definition.

    Thanks all

    1. Plane trees were installed extensively in London, especially in parks, due to their being particularly good at cleaning air pollution, same as Spathiphyllum, Chlorophytum and even Hedera indoors, hence their popularity of old. Living beside a main road, I still use them aplenty

      I do agree with you about ‘this’, ‘—-‘ and also the use of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘setter’, and clues that take the form of ‘bit of clue’ DASH ‘unrelated but necessary part of clue’. Just seems lazy to me

      1. Our street is plane tree lined as are many others in our area of London. I am sure there must be better cryptic definitions for “plane tree” than “feature of city park”.

  3. Not for the first time, I could simply put ditto to RD’s comments. Same = similar, I don’t think so! Sounds reminiscent of adverts that try to persuade us that the fake on offer replicates the original. As for leaving an underlined blank – it may possibly be acceptable in a quotation, as per Gazza’s example, but elsewhere it just seems rather lazy on the setter’s part. On the subject of surface reads – there were quite a few on show here that didn’t exactly cut the mustard.

    Apologies to Musaeus and thanks to Gazza – particularly for the Acker Bilk clip.

  4. I found this easy but, unlike Gazza, I did find it a touch harder than yesterday’s puzzle. I suspect it is 5a that makes the difference. For people like me who don’t know anything about Muses (or mythology in general) but have seen most of them in crosswords now and again, I need all the checking letters before the answer works it way out of deep, seldom-troubled memory. If 5a were a write-in then 5d would have been much easier which helps with 18a (an unknown word to me, but guessable with all checkers) and 26a. Despite German being the only foreign language I have ever had any ability at all to speak, I totally failed to work out the “badger hunter” definition in 26a – silly as I know the German words for badger, for dog and both the proper & familiar name for the sausage dog.

    I agree with Gazza about using blanks. In fact blanks in clues that were quotations from literature really put me off trying to solve crosswords for many years. That sort of clue really sent out a message that non-literary people like me were somewhat out of place and the possibility of finishing a puzzle unaided was totally removed. It was only a couple of decades later when I was travelling a lot for work that I tried cryptic crosswords again when sitting in a plane or train – and, bliss, the quotation clue had then died out (fingers crossed).

    With thanks to the setter and Gazza

  5. As Patch said yesterday, we really only get Toughies on a Friday now, so what we have on the other days is a “Puzzles Page Cryptic” and so I’ve decided to base my difficulty rating on non-Toughie days as if the crossword had appeared on the back page. So, this one would rate as a 3* difficulty on that scale – it would have been well into the minuses on a Toughie scale.

    I did enjoy myself, my favourite was 11a. I was also surprised at the number of things that lurk in the back of my mind, such as the badger-hunter in 26a, all ready to come to mind when required for crossword solving. The other thing that surprised me was that, if you’d asked me this morning I’d have said Massachusetts had a double S after the U so I really must remember that in future.

    Thanks to Musaeus and Gazza

  6. Mixed bag of good clues mixed with some questionable ones e.g. 9a, 11a, 25a, and 8d. Otherwise a satisfyingly testing work-out. Struggled to recall 5a. Thank you to whomever it may be and to Gazza.

  7. I did not get on well with this. Like others I was not enamoured with the blanks – I was expecting more of them than was apparently to be found. I failed in several – 25a being one where, like gsolphotog, I could not find a definition at all. I didn’t know the definition in 18a (is there a reason, other than to misdirect, for the two ‘La’s in the clue?) I didn’t know the prevalence of the tress in London parks in 8d. There were a couple (of very good clues) that I did not get but should have (the non-return vehicle in 11a for instance). So sorry, but this was not my puzzle at all. Thanks anyway to all.

    1. La-la-land is an informal term for Los Angeles (especially the Hollywood area) and the answer (Angeleno) is someone from Los Angeles.

        1. Like Tony I’d not realised La La Land was an informal term for LA (perhaps if I’d seen the movie) & failed to get this one despite correctly realising it ended in a reversal of one. I also fell short on 25a. Unlike others I found this a good deal harder than most back pagers due to a number of tricky clues. 11a was my favourite also.

  8. Totally agree with Gazza that a blank makes a very poor substitute for a definition in a clue. Just hope that it doesn’t spread as rapidly as COVID-19.
    Plenty of other clues that we did enjoy though. Still chuckling over 11a.
    Thanks Musaeus and Gazza.

  9. Echoing a number of other comments, we found this rather underwhelming.

    Not a lot more to say except thanks to Gazza and Musaeus.

  10. Thanks to Musaeus and to Gazza for the review and hints. I managed some of this, but unlike yesterday was not on the right wavelength. Needed 10 hints to finish, even though I had a lot of checkers. Re 18a, I thought that it was to do with the Tele-Tubbies. Had not heard of the Hollywood connection. Or the name of an LA dweller.

  11. A day late with this one. Definitely on the simple side except 18a. I knew La-La land was LA but had never come across the inhabitant.

  12. 2*/3*…..
    liked 26A ” badger-hunter knowing trail around Australia (7,3) “…also the picture in the hint thereto.

Comments are closed.