SMH 21953 - DA

There is no theme today. That's a start. But that can mean all clues can be anything at all, so that raises a LOT of possibilities. There was one new word and a few good ideas and a couple of DA-isms.

ACROSS
1) MUGS : ddef
3) MAGNUM OPUS : Ma,gnu,mop,US
9) see 25ac
10) SPINAL CORD : (island,crop)* : 'down back' isn't quite equivalent is it ?
12) DECIBEL : iced<,b-,e-,l-
13) ALIASES : se(sail)a < : the surface is a bit ridiculous, barely a sensible sentence.
14) COURT MARTIAL : hm(caught,marshal)
18) RESTAURATEUR : (Street)*<>aura,-ur- : I did think 'set' for Ramsay Street so I guess DA achieved that much.
21) AWARE OF : a,war,foe<
23) HENRY VI : hen,(vi---ry)*
24) CONDOBOLIN : condo,lob<,in : again, 'central-west NSW' isn't correct. Not even if 'in' does double-duty. Why not just add 'town' on the end ?
25,9) LIMA BEAN : (animal,be)* : probably today's easiest.
26) LOTUS-EATER : lot,U,seater
27) FETE : fetish,------e : took a while to see that.

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SMH 21952 - NS

I can't say this was NS's best puzzle either. It also had some vague clues and one or two plain errors. Having just been through the slump days of Tuesday and Wednesday, I was hoping for something bright. From last Friday's marginalising DA puzzle about superheroes, through to today, it hasn't been a good week for SMH puzzles.

ACROSS
1) AS OLD AS THE HILLS : (dishes,a,lot,shall)*
9) AGAR-AGAR : a,gar,a,gar : an over-used construction.
10) GENTRY : gent,r----y
11) ASPHALTING : asp,halting
12) ROLE : ---el or----
13) PROTESTS : pro,tests
16) DEMONS : de(MO)ns
17) SCUBAS : S(cub,a-----)S
19) OBTUSEST : OB,t(us)est : there goes 'trial' again.
21) NINE : N(in)E
22) NAIL-BITING : (Latin,in,big)*
25) CIGARS : CI,gars : there goes 'fish' again. 'for smoking' is not a noun.
26) ADELAIDE : ddef? : is 'state' meant to be Adelaide ?!
27) PRETENTIOUSNESS : (set,in,stone,super)*

DOWN
2) SAGAS : SA gas : oh THAT state !
3) LARCH : L,arch
4) ANGELUS : -ang elus--- ----
5) TURNIPS : turn,I,PS
6) ENGAGED : E,NG,Age,d-------
7) IGNORAMUS : (rung,so,I'm,a)*
8) LORDLINGS : lo(r-d-l-i-)ngs
14) RECTIFIER : (it,fiercer)*
15) TABLE SALT : t--,able,salt
18) SINKS IN : sin,k-------,sin
19) ORIGAMI : or,I,g---,AM,I : many segments.
20) TABLEAU : table,Au
23) TRAIN : ddef
24) NODES : -n ode s--------

I don't know. Maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe these setters having been doing it so long that fresh clues are hard to come by . . .

SMH 21951 - DP

Something weird about this one. Had a lot of vague clues and answers and not much of the usual DP 'style'. It wasn't a quick solve.

ACROSS
8) CHIN-CHIN : chin,chin : a phrase that I dislike. 'double-jawed' has a vague connection to chins but it not precise is it ?
9) AGENCY : (Cagney)* : 'doctor' and 'represented' could both be anagrinds. Otherwise 'represented' may just be suggesting the definition via Doctor Cagney/office, being an agency. Stupid clue.
10) OUT OF COMMISSION : ddef : but basically the same definition.
11) NOEL : ddef : 'met at' achieves what ?
13) ULTRASOUND : (loud,turn,as)*
15) SHINING : ddef : again, basically the same definition.
17) IN STORE : --ins to re---- : usually 'not on line(sic)' is 'in-store'. 'In store' is 'safely held'. Confusing.
19) BROWN STUDY : brown,study : a really stupid clue for a British phrase I'd never heard. Thanks DP.
21) RAMP : ram,p--------
24) YOU NEVER CAN TELL : ddef-ish
25) ENDEAR : end,ear
26) NOBLESSE : (one)*<>bless : apparently referring to a phrase — "noblesse oblige Privilege entails responsibility".

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SMH 21950 - DH

I nearly wasn't going to write this up. I'm so bored and frustrated by names, random or otherwise, appearing in clues. It's like a crossword written by Woman's Day editors. Tuesday is hardly worth it. Maybe next week I will do a Times crossword instead.

ACROSS
1,17dn) BENJAMIN FRANKLIN : Benjamin,frank,nil<
5) AFFORD : a,f,ford
10) see 27ac
11) VISIONARY : vision,(Ray)*
12) LAURENCE OLIVIER : La(rue)*nce,Oliv(I)er
13) RANT : ran,---t
14) NORTH KOREA : (or,the,Koran)*
18) PRAIRIE DOG : (I,paid,Roger)*
21) OTIS : OT,is
23) IMPENETRABILITY : (Britney,pale,Tim,I)*
26) APPALLING : (papal)*,ling
27,10) DAVID BOWIE : Da(VI)d,bow,ie
28) DRAINS : d---------,rains
29) BALMORAL : balm,oral

DOWN
1) BABEL : Babe,L
2) see 24dn
3) APE-MEN : a(PE)men
4) IN VACUO : in,Va,c-,u-,o-
6) FROLICKY : (for)*,lick,y---
7) OKAPI : OK,a,PI
8) DAYDREAMS : Day,Dr,(same)*
9) ASSORT : as,sort
13) REPRIMAND : re,(rip)*,Man,d
15) RED : ---re d------ --
16) RETRIEVER : (river,tree)*
17) see 1ac
19) ENTAIL : --e,(Latin)*
20) OTALGIA : (goat,Ali)*
22) WISDOM : ---- --wis dom------
24,2dn) PAPUA NEW GUINEA : (Apia,Gwen,Puneau)* : . . . . . . . . .
25) YODEL : ------ --yo del------

What a waste of time.

SMH 21948 - DS

For the third consecutive week I've been out of town for Saturday — Katoomba, Port Macquarie and now Canberra. It's a lovely problem to have, I guess.
But I won't be reviewing DS as I only did it on iPad late last night (12m30sec), plus the relevant section of the Saturday newspaper wasn't delivered anyway. (Or stolen). Next Saturday has no excursions planned.

SMH 21947 - DA

Aagh! Had a limited time to get this done today and I open up the page to a very unhelpful rubric. Gonna have to be strong. As usual, I try to solve the non-theme clues and find myself with I_O_____ at 10ac. One part suggests IRONMAN as the only option. But which sense? Then it appears NATASHA somethingOVA toward the bottom. That sounded like a hero/villain. Worked the anagram bit, got a name, googled it. Voila. It's either the superhero or the alter-ego. Now get on with it.

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SMH 21946 - NS

Can't believe it's Thursday again. Not sure where that week went. NS is back.

ACROSS
8) TAKES A SHORT CUT : (attackers,shout)*
10) LEGENDS : leg,ends
11) ROSELLA : rose,all<
12) FORELIMBS : hm(four),limbs : four instead of two.
14) ABEAM : a,beam
15) AVERAGE : aver,age
18) STETSON : (tests,on)*
19) UNTIE : Fr(une)<>it<
20) LENINGRAD : --len in grad---- : 'class' is useless.
24) HURTLES : hurt,le-s : mm, 'mostly' means take a central letter now ?
25) ACROBAT : (at.cobra)*
27) BALANCED BUDGET : (unlaced,debt,bag)*

DOWN
1) BADGER : ddef
2) NEON : -ne on- : fair enough.
3) HANSOM : hm(handsome) : is that close enough ?
4) CHORUSES : chor-,uses
5) CRUSTACEAN : (cute,cars,an)*
6) SCALPELS : scalp,--e,L,s----
7) STRAW MAN : (tam,warns)* : not my favourite anagram ever.
9) CLEF : C,(L)E,F
13) LEAVE ALONE : Fr(le),a----------,veal,one
15) ABU DHABI : AB,hm(you),(had)*,bi-- : bit everything in that one.
16) ENTIRELY : (net)*,I,rely
17) ENLISTED : --en,listed
21) NEARBY : (barney)*
22) ROBBED : (Red,Bob)* : a bit too DH-ish that one.
23) DUTY : ----y Tud--
26) RIDE : r(I'd)e

There were a couple of dodgy/lazy ones in there. We need NS to hold up Thursday, otherwise the middle of the week will be veeery long.

SMH 21945 - DP

I had a number of stumbles going through this. A number did not become apparent straight away so I did a lot of jumping around. One can usually pretty much glide through a DP.

ACROSS
1) BOEING : (one,big)*
4) FINE ARTS : fine,Arts
10) REPEATERS : ddef : but probably should be 'which clocks say'.
11) EXCEL : -----ex cel- : odd definition, being an application.
12) DOWN IN THE DUMPS : down,in the dumps
14) TURN DOWN : turn,down : 'feathers' again!
16) BONSAI : b-r-n-s- a-i-
18) FORMAT : (farm,to)*
20) AIRSTRIP : airs,trip
23) COMMON OR GARDEN : ddef-ish : blah.
26) LAIRD : la(I)rd
27) CATAPULTS : (taut,scalp)*
28) BIGAMIST : big,(a)mist
29) RED RAW : warder<

DOWN
1) BORED STIFF : ddef-ish
2) EMPOWER : (Rome,pew)*
3) NAAFI : ----na a fi-- : Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes, apparently.
5) ISSUED : is,sued
6) EXECUTORS : ddef
7) RECIPES : (precise)*
8) SOLE : ddef
9) NEWTOWN : newt,own : well, does it ? Can an amphibian afford it ?
13) RIPPING SAW : ripping,saw
15) DEAR MADAM : d-e-(armada)m : a bit of creativity.
17) MIGRATE : (ragtime)*
19) RIOTING : rio,tin,g
21) RIDDLER : ddef
22) SNACKS : ddef
24) APPLE : whatever
25) CLUB : ddef

One clue/answer had a bit of thought, so why don't the rest ? I always think that DP could raise his game and be a solid performer. But there remains the odd suspicion that the puzzles are just routine now.

SMH 21944 - DH

Will anything different happen today ? Will DH continue with his big three : 1. random names, 2. crap grammar, 3. ye olde names . . . though there could be more. He does like to design his own grids however. I think that's where the major part of his time occurs.

ACROSS
1) URSA MINOR : (Una,Morris)*
9) ENAMOUR : ---en---,amour : I hate clues that have the base word + extension = answer and base word and answer are much the same e.g. amour/captivate, or make someone love.
10) CUR : Cu,R
11) HAIFA : h----,AIF,a
12) LAOTIAN : (Ali,not,a)*
13) MAGOG : Ma,go,G
15) SURREAL : (lears)*<>Ur
16) LAST NIGHT : nigh'T' : wow, someone explain the surface please . . .
19) OUT OF LINE : out of (Neil)*
20) EASTERN : ea,stern
22) WIPES : W,(pies)*
24) TANTRUM : T,ant,rum
25) IRAQI : inits
27) NAG : -----na g------ : surely a word starting with G was possible that would complete the clue, so not to have 'worse' do nothing.
28) REACHES : re,aches
29) TWO SEATER : two,(eats)*,er

DOWN
1) UNCOMPLIMENTARY : (Mary,Uncle,Tom,nip)*
2) SPRIG : SP,RI,G : George again.
3) MAHOGANY : Ma(Hogan)y
4) see 23dn
5) REAL ESTATE : R,(lease)*,Tate
6) FAVOUR : f(AVO)ur
7) DONIZETTI : (no,zit,Ted,I)* : unbelievably stupid clue.
8) GRANULATED SUGAR : gran(--u,LA)ted,sugar : ugh.
14) AGRONOMIST : (Tom,Goran,is)*
17) SONS-IN-LAW : (Wilsons,an)*
18) OFF-WHITE : off White
21) EARTHY : (heart)*,--y
23,4) PINOT NOIR : (Ron,I,point)* : such a disappointing clue.
25) SAGO : SA,go / sag,O

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