Notes for Azed 2,619

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 2,619 Plain

Difficulty rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

I thought initially that this one was scarcely going to move the needle of the  Difficultomer® from its resting position, but the bottom half of the puzzle provide considerably trickier than the top, so overall I’ve awarded it an average rating. I wonder how the regular correspondent who always starts in the SE corner got on? There were some entertaining clues, and a generous dollop of straightforward anagrams certainly helped the solving along.

I know some solvers were waiting for the Azed slip for July, delayed due to Azed’s (thankfully mild) dose of COVID prior to his holiday – it is now published on the Crossword Centre site.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 6d, “Old found under bush, causing stir (4)”. The parsing of the clue is covered in the notes below, but the point I wanted to raise concerns the inclusion of the word ‘causing’. This isn’t part of the wordplay, and it might appear to belong to the definition, which would then be ‘causing stir’, but it doesn’t. It is simply there to improve the surface reading of the clue, and it is universally accepted that although ideally a clue consists only of definition and wordplay it is ok to add linking words (‘in’ and ‘from’ are common examples) which suggest that the preceding element can obtained from the following one. My advice to new setters would be when writing a clue to try to avoid linking words, and then to include them if there is no other way of making the surface reading work. Some setters use them liberally, but I think half a dozen in any one puzzle (which is probably around average for an Azed) is plenty – not least because they are a distraction to the solver, and one which can at times border on the unfair.

13a Great bird embraced by poet as a basic rule (7)
A three-letter bird apparently strong enough to carry off an elephant (type unspecified) is contained (’embraced’) by a generic term for a poet, producing a word derived from the name of the 11th century Bishop of Worms who compiled twenty books of ‘Regulae Ecclesiasticae’. I believe that the film rights may still be available.

16a Part of Aristotle’s lantern, ultra flickering around circle (6)
A straightforward wordplay, an anagram (‘flickering’) of ULTRA containing the letter shaped rather like a circle, but “Aristotle’s lantern” was new to me. In his Historia Animalium, Aristotle supposedly described the mouth of the sea urchin thus: 

In respect of its beginning and end the mouth of the urchin is continuous, though in respect of its superficial appearance it is not continuous, but similar to a lantern not having a surrounding skin.

Many years later, this name was adopted by scientists (without, it seems, asking too many questions about its accuracy) for the unusual jaw apparatus of the sea urchin. It now appears much more likely that the key word in the original badly-damaged manuscript is not stoma (mouth) but soma (body), so Aristotle was comparing the overall shape of a sea urchin to that of a lantern, which seems much more plausible. Great name, though.

25a Provide workers for Laotian unit, making money elsewhere (5)
A three-letter word meaning ‘provide workers for’ is followed by that Laotian currency  unit which will be instantly recognizable to most solvers as ‘a bit of a kip’. ‘Elsewhere’ turns out to be Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

26a One mending damaged threads cut through right to the end (6)
A neat clue, even though there really ought to be a comma between ‘through’ and ‘right’. A word meaning ‘cut through’ (or ‘penetrate’) has the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘right’ moved to the end.

29a Camping equipment to make people laugh with strangeness? (8)
‘To make people laugh’ translates into a (2,5) phrase (the most pedantic among us might venture that ‘try to make people laugh’ would be more accurate) which is followed by the usual (albeit rarely seen) abbreviation for ‘strangeness’, in the quark, strangeness and charm sense.

34a Moorland family, one occupying rolling space (5)
The Roman numeral for one is contained by (‘occupying’) a four-letter land measure (‘space’) which has been reversed (‘rolling’).

35a Unruly sister in upstairs apartment, nagging (10)
An anagram (‘unruly’) of SISTER is put inside a four-letter word for an up( rather a lot of )stairs apartment, more familiar in its nine-letter form.

1d Reckless driver, one strolling around Italian city ignoring roundabout? (12, 2 words)
A six-letter word for someone taking a stroll contains the seven-letter name of a city in Lombardy from which a letter resembling a roundabout (though not the sort you find in Hemel Hempstead, mind you) has been removed. The solution will probably bring back memories for some of TV public information films, in particular those from the 1970s (“Don’t be an ambler gambler”) such as this one whence the term originated. Readers whose memories stretch back further will recall earlier classics, such as the wonderful “Don’t overcrowd your car” series from the 1960s.

6d Old found under bush, causing stir (4)
The usual abbreviation for ‘old’ follows a word for a bushy mass, especially of ivy (and a name sometimes given to a fox); the solution is hyphenated, (2-2).

7d One introducing entertainment in space? It’ll amuse viewers (6)
The two-letter abbreviation for the term applied to the host of a ceremony is contained by a four-letter word meaning ‘space’. Those hard-to-tickle pedants from 29a might also suggest that the solution here, which can be either (6) or (3-3), is intended to amuse viewers.

12d Major-scale melody getting broadcast? (6)
The wordplay suggests a (3,2,1) phrase which my extremely limited knowledge of classical music tells me would be in a major key, and which brings to mind August Wilhelmj’s 1871 arrangement of the second movement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major (you’re right, that came not from my memory but from Wikipedia).

21d African ‘cat’ in what suggests a small square? (7)
If the solution is broken down as (1,3,3) it suggests a four-letter word which is indeed a ‘small square’ – in integral terms, there aren’t many smaller. Azed has enclosed the ‘cat’ in apostrophes because while the animal here belongs to a class whose members are often described as catlike it is not part of the cat family.

22d Maverick store? (6)
This double-definition clue could prove troublesome for those unfamiliar with the TV series Maverick, a comedy western (goodness, how many of those there were back in the day) which ran from 1957 to 1982. The early episodes revolved around Bret Maverick (played by the actor whose surname is required here) and his brother Bart, played by Jim Kelly. When our man left after three series, the character Beau Maverick, a cousin of Bret and Bart played by Roger Moore, was introduced; part-way through the fourth series, Moore was replaced by Robert Colbert, playing another brother, Brent. The show ended after series five, presumably because they had run out of b-words.

24d ‘Etched’ fabric, English version in possession of French etcher (6)
The standard abbreviation for ‘English version’ is contained by (‘in possession of’) the surname of Gustave, French engraver, illustrator, comic artist, caricaturist, sculptor and all-round good oeuf.

27d Naval office vocabulary has this (5)
A companion piece of sorts for last week’s BERTH clue, here we have to come up with the (3,2) phrase to describe one of the things that [the word] vocabulary ‘has’.

28d Start of corrida? Thereabouts time’s up for bull (5)
The first letter (‘start’) of ‘corrida’ is contained (‘thereabouts’) by a reversal (‘up’) of the other thing that waits for no man (and I don’t mean the number 29 bus).

30d I’m ready for Georgia, a girl that’s ditzy, losing head (4)
An anagram (‘ditzy’) of A and GIRL without its first letter (‘losing head’), and a definition which uses ‘ready’ in the sense of ‘ready money’ (more commonly seen in the plural form).

(definitions are underlined)

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5 Responses

  1. Daron Fincham says:

    I’d heard of Maverick but not the French man so that foxed me.

  2. JOHN ATKINSON says:

    Having reached the ripe old age of 21 and a lot more, I was startled to see that lung has an urban meaning.

    On the topic of information films from the 70s, subsequent revelations make one reconsider the series of, “Well you see Jimmy, I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.”

    Thanks, as usual. J

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi John

      I’m used to hearing the expression ‘green lung’, but I hadn’t realized that the use of ‘lung’ or ‘lungs’ to describe open spaces in or near to a city dates back a long way, as witnessed by this extract from a speech by William Windham to the House of Commons in 1808:

      “It was a saying of Lord Chatham, that the parks were the lungs of London.”

      Not a public information film, but mention of safety belts reminds me of Sir Robert Mark’s “major contribution to road safety” ads for Goodyear tyres, famously parodied on Not the Nine O’Clock News.

      • John Atkinson says:

        I spent almost three years at Goodyear HQ in Ohio leading a big IT project in the 90s, and I used to drive (as they say in Oz) like a hoon. After many discussions with tyre and compound engineers, I learnt to slow down a tad and greatly increase the distance to the car in front, especially in rain and snow.