Notes for Azed 2,604
There are usually one or two points of interest in an Azed puzzle, and here we pick them out for comment. Please feel free to add your own questions or observations on any aspect of the puzzle (including clues not listed below) either by using the comment form at the bottom of the page or, if would prefer that your question/comment is not publicly visible, by email.
Azed 2,604 Plain
Difficulty rating: (1.5 / 5)
After last week’s stern test, something rather more straightforward. Truth be told, something very straightforward indeed by Azed’s standards.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 32a, “Changes name of uneasy Dennis (8)”. The wordplay is discussed below, but the point that I want to look at here is the definition. ‘Uneasy Dennis changes name’, apart from being more succinct, would read better – so why didn’t Azed write the clue that way? Because the solution is formed from a transitive-only verb, so it must be defined by another word or phrase which would similarly be followed by an object. Hence ‘changes name of [someone/something]’ works, as would ‘renames’ (although that is uncomfortably close to the solution), but ‘changes name’ alone won’t do, and wouldn’t be seen when Azed is at the helm..
1a Historical dance with swords mostly fitting including adult (8)
An eight-letter word for ‘fitting’ has the last letter removed (‘mostly’) and contains the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘adult’.
13a Cook goose with steamer, being ready for eating? (8)
A charade of a two-letter word for ‘[to] cook’, a four-letter type of goose (of the Hawaiian kind), and a two-letter abbreviation prefixed to the name of a steamship.
16a TV control turning on head? (5)
That familiar two-letter piece of ‘commercial jargon’ meaning ‘on’ or ‘in the matter of’ plus a three-letter informal term for the human head are reversed (‘turning’) to find something that would only be found in physical ‘control’ form (ie a knob) on seriously superannuated TVs.
19a Like leafy growth, star-shaped, I observed on centre of poppy inside (10)
An eight-letter word meaning ‘star-shaped’ (which one could probably guess even if one didn’t know it) has the letter I (from the clue) and the middle letter (‘centre’) of ‘poppy’ inserted (‘inside’).
24a Indian peasant when retiring sheltered by family (5)
A two-letter word meaning ‘when’ is reversed (‘retiring’) inside (‘sheltered by’) a three-letter word for ‘family’.
27a Cat trapped in alarm creating minor set-to once (8)
A three-letter slang term for a cat (more familiar as a five-letter word with -gy on the end) is ‘trapped’ within a five-letter word for an alarm, the answer being an archaic spelling of a word still in regular use.
28a Fine Easter feature in unaccompanied pieces – vocal exercises required (8)
The usual abbreviation for ‘fine’ and an important three-letter feature of Easter as far as I’m concerned are contained by a four-letter word for unaccompanied pieces.
32a Changes name of uneasy Dennis? (8)
A five-letter word for ‘uneasy’ (a seven-letter version is more common, I would say) is followed by the first name used by the former host of Family Fortunes who subsequently had a very tough time in Coronation Street. The solution, if divided (2,6), is the name by which Shirley Macleod, who sadly died last month, was better known to new wave music fans of the 1970s and 1980s. She was the female vocalist with The Tubes, whose stage act was something to behold; I saw them around 1978 when they were on a tour which subsequently had to be cut short after male singer Fee Waybill fell off the stage while wielding a chainsaw and broke his leg. It could have been worse, not least for those sitting in the front row.
1d Wine I objectively preferred with fish served up (5)
The objective form of the first person singular pronoun is followed by a reversal (‘served up’) of a three-letter fish. The ‘preferred’ is there for the benefit of the surface reading, and should be interpreted in the wordplay along the lines of ‘put first’.
6d Brand’s original source detectable in cribs, endlessly (5)
The Brand in question is an 1865 Norwegian verse tragedy; the name of its author was the inspiration for the stage name taken by James Bateman, who between 1968 and 1971 regularly and famously recited his poems on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Here is The Thumbnail – by Henry Gibson (to be read in a southern drawl):
Did you ever stop to figure
Why the thumbnail is so hard?
Well it hasn’t any choice
With all that skin to guard.
It may look fat and pudgy
But its heart is good and true.
It’s prettier than a toenail
And easier to chew.
8d Old-fashioned helping? I had one after dividing e.g. pork? Not me (6)
A two-letter representation of ‘I had’ and a two-letter word meaning ‘one’ are seen splitting (‘dividing’) a four-letter term exemplified by pork (‘e.g. pork’) from which the letters ME have been omitted (‘not me’).
17d A Greek letter inscribed in container of Mesolithic era (7)
The letter A (from the clue) plus a three-letter Greek letter are contained by (‘inscribed in’) a three-letter container of the baked bean kind.
19d My young had a tough upbringing, showing interest in it? (6)
This clue looked more interesting at first glance than it turned out to be. The wordplay simply involves a four-letter word meaning ‘interest’ (or ‘role’) being put inside those two letters that so often are indicated in crossword land by ‘it’.
21d Uniform, vivid, length made right? (6)
A six-letter word meaning ‘vivid’ has an L (‘length’) replaced by (‘made’) the standard abbreviation for ‘right’.
26d They get driven in smart Lancia with no car mat, all over the place (5)
A nice definition is made possible by a rather clunky wordplay, where the words SMART LANCIA must be rearranged (‘all over the place’) without the letters of CAR MAT (‘no car mat’). In this sort of clue there would often be two anagram indicators, since the letters to be removed are not consecutive in the words from which they are to be taken. If the clue read ‘all over the place with no car mat’ I would have no problem, because the rearrangement could result in ?????CARMAT, from which the ‘car mat’ could then be omitted, but as it stands I think the ‘smart Lancia’ requires its own anagram indicator. I’d favour something along the lines of ‘Battered car mat removed from otherwise smart Lancia they get driven in’, although it’s still rather cumbersome.