Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8,282 / Donk – MAY Day

Posted by RatkojaRiku on May 1st, 2013


It is Wednesday today, and yet we are not crossing swords with either Dac or Crosophile? How can this be? Have I slept right through Wednesday and missed my blogging slot altogether?

There was, of course, method in the scheduler’s apparent madness: there had to be a reason for this puzzle to appear today, thus making it necessary to rejig the Dac/Crosophile slots this week and last. For a long time, I didn’t see quite why this puzzle needed to be published today specifically. I could see that Donk had begun all his across clues with “I may ..”; indeed, he even draws our attention to it at 27. However, once the puzzle was solved and I was staring at the completed grid and its clues in advance of writing this blog, I released that the “I may” could be read each time as 1 May, i.e. today’s date – what a difference a capital letter can make! Full marks to Donk for originality!

I found this a taxing solve, but not unduly so, and it was above all entertaining and ultimately satisfying – exactly what I look for in a daily crossword. I was able to solve all the clues to my satisfaction on the strength of the wordplay, using reference works to check only the entry at 10 and the Pontiac reference at 6.

My favourite clues today are 15 for its & lit. element, 18 for its sauciness and, above all, 14 for its smooth surface and exquisitely hidden definition.

*(…) indicates an anagram


1   SPIN-OFF SP (=odds, i.e. starting price) + IN-OFF (=billiards shot); I take it   that spin-off is to be understood here as a follow-up TV series featuring some of same characters/actors, hence “same player recording”
5   BY A MILE B<lackpool> (“opener” means first letter only) + YAMI (I MAY; “back” indicates reversal) + <b>L<u>E<s> (“at evens” means even letters only are used)
9   ASSUMED NAME AS (=while) + SUMEDNA (AND=with + EMUS=birds; “back” indicates reversal) + ME (=Donk, i.e. setter)
10   CPR P (=pennies) in CR (=councillor); CPR is cardiopulmonary resuscitation, hence “I may save people”
11   TALC A (=area) in TLC (=care, i.e. tender loving care)
12   PROSTITUTE PRO (=for) + <in>STITUTE (=organisation; “home(=in)-less” means letters “in” are dropped; the definition is “I may sell it (=sex)”
14   DYNAMITE *(I MAY DENT); “rocks” is anagram indicator; & lit.
15   IDLEST L<aziness> (“No. 1 spot” means first letter only) in ID EST (=that is, i.e.); & lit.
17   GOBLIN NIL (=none) + BOG (=toilet); “in retrospect” indicates reversal
19   CALAMITY *(I MAY + TALC (=entry at 11)); “nuts” is anagram indicator
22   ONE-MAN BAND ONE (=1) + MA<y> (“shortly” means last letter dropped) + N<aively> (“start to” means first letter only) + BAND (=tape)
23   AVOW AV (=I may decide election, i.e. Alternative Vote) + OW (=that hurts!)
26   LIP I in LP (=record)
27   EGOTISTICAL Cryptic definition: all across clues begin with “I may …”, suggesting self-obsession!
28   REBATED D-EBATE-R (=I may discuss); “swapping tips” means first and last letters swap places
29   GREGORY Reversed (“from behind”) and hidden (“nurses”) in “maY ROGER Gorgeous”; the definition is simply “I”, suggesting a person’s name
1   SHAFT SH (=pipe down) + AFT (=back)
2   INSULIN INSUL<t> (=slight, as a verb/noun, slur; “cut” means last letter dropped) + IN (=hip, i.e. trendy)
3   OHMS O (=round, i.e. from shape) + HMS (=Belfast, perhaps, i.e. one of Her Majesty’s Ships)
4   FEDERATE Reversed (“climbing”) and hidden (“neighbours – adjoining letters – from”) in “BarnET ARE DEFinitely”; the definition is “league”, as a verb
5   BRAISE R<o>A<d>I<e> (“oddly” means odd letters only are used) in BSE (=calamity – entry at 19 – involving beef, i.e. mad cow disease)
6   AMERINDIAN A + [N (=new) in MERIDIAN (=line between poles, i.e. between North and South Poles]; the reference is to Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, famous for his role in Pontiac’s Rebellion
7   INCLUDE Homophone (“to auditor”) of “ink” (=tattoo) + “lewd” (=indecent)
8   EARNESTLY NEST (=retreat) in EARLY (=advanced)
13   AMBIVALENT *(EVIL BATMAN); “reinvented” is anagram indicator; the definition is “with conflict in mind”, i.e. being of two minds
14   DOG COLLAR *(CAR + OLD LOG); “written off” is anagram indicator; the cleverly hidden definition is “This Rover sports”, i.e. this is worn by dog
16   PAINTING AIN’T (=isn’t) in [PIN (=number of accounts) + G (=good)]
18   BREWPUB BREW (=tea, as in I’ll make us a brew) + PUB<e> (=one of many ripped off by Brazilian, i.e. intimate hair removal procedure; “contracts” means last letter dropped); a brewpub is a pub combined with a small-scale brewery, hence “self-sufficient local”
20   IN VACUO [A + CU (=copper)] in *(VINO); “exotic” is anagram indicator
21   ABROAD A + B-ROAD (=lesser-used way)
24   WELLY WELL (=fine) + <beaut>Y (“bottom on” means last letter only)
25   STYE S (=small) + *(YET); “complex” is anagram indicator


20 Responses to “Independent 8,282 / Donk – MAY Day”

  1. Rorschach says:

    He just continues to get better and better doesn’t he!

    Thoroughly enjoyed – genius theme – tight cluing – couple of smirks here and there.

    Highlights for me were actually many of the 4 letter lights – Donk is fantastic at cluing these in my humble opinion and, as every setter knows, it’s a real skill to clue them without being trite or traditional. Talc and ohms both up there.

    Thanks both.

  2. michelle says:

    This was an interesting puzzle with all of its “1 May” across clues. It took me a while to understand how the across clues worked, so I started with the down clues for the most part.

    My favourites were 9a, 12a, 19a, 22a, 28a, 7d, 18d (although now I see I had forgotten to parse it).

    I couldn’t fully parse 1a (apart from SP = starting price), 23a (apart from OW = hurts), 5d (I only parsed the RAI bit), and could not parse 8d or 16d (last in) at all!

    Thanks for the blog, RatkojaRiku.

  3. Andy B says:

    Well blogged and a cracking puzzle. It seemed to take me an age to get started (IN VACUO was my first in) but everything slotted into place eventually and I was pleased to finish it without resorting to aids. The SW was first to fall, followed by the SE, NW and NE. I agree wholeheartedly with Rorschach about the originality of the cluing of the short clues. 12a made me chuckle, but then that’s just me being infantile …………

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks, RR, for a great blog of a great puzzle.

    Hi Rorschach – your first sentence is exactly what I was going to say. Donk has quickly established himself as one of my top favourite setters. I agree with you about his clues for 4-letter words: I’ve seen STYE clued in so many different ways but never better.

    Far too many excellent clues to name any more – it was just one ‘aha’ / chuckle after another.

    Huge thanks, Donk, for yet another cracker.

  5. PJ says:

    Enormous fun. Thanks to Donk, and to R for the blog which I needed to fully parse 9A.

  6. Simon Harris says:

    Bravo. A really enjoyable, challenging, yet tractable lunch hour solve.

    The “I may” device could have become tiresome in clumsier hands, but it didn’t even for a minute. I look forward to the next Donk.

    Thanks also to RatkojaRiku!

  7. cumbrian says:

    Many thanks for the blog, which I needed for some of the clues. I also needed the cheat button a couple of times, and I don’t think I’d have got CPR no matter how long I stared at it – but absolutely no complaint, it was a very clever clue. I did eventually manage to parse 14d; exquisite is indeed the word. Oh, and I also liked the smutty ones…..

    More please, Donk.

  8. flashling says:

    Mayday! Mayday! indeed, felt like I was floundering at sea for quite a bit doing this, rather tough and nicely devious. 26 certainly an interesting surface…

    Thanks Donk & RR

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Well, I hate to rain on Donk’s parade, but I didn’t like this much, although his previous puzzles I have enjoyed. I didn’t – needless to say – see the theme, and this just meant me thinking ‘why is the “I may” bit of the acrosses just in most cases serving to point me towards the definition?

    I won’t say it was a ‘too clever for its own good puzzle’ because I’m certain that was never Donk’s intention, and it will just reinforce my reputation as a grumpy old man. Just not my cup of tea today.

    The smut was good though…

    Thanks to S&B

  10. eimi says:

    There was a hint of what was to come last week. No one picked up on the fact that Dac made an unexpected appearance on the last Wednesday of the month, or the significance of the first across answer.

    I thought this was brilliant. When Donk told me what he was planning I was dubious, but in my opinion he pulled it off admirably. It may not have been to everyone’s taste, but I think Donk is one of the rising stars of the cruciverbal universe and I’m pleased to have been able to give him his big break.

  11. Tramp says:

    I thought it was excellent. Superb stuff.

  12. shikasta says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this – especially with all the Is but not having to resort to any of the standard crossword I uses eg. iodine, institute, international, independent, electric current etc

    I think there are a couple of mis-types in your blog: 17 “in retrospect” is a reversal of NIL BOG rather than an anagram; 22 M(ay) A(dvertise) “for starters” rather than MA(y) “shortly”.

  13. Bertandjoyce says:

    Joyce was glad that there were two us solving as it took her a lot longer to get started. It was almost “Mayday, Mayday” at the start!

    We both loved PROSTITUTE which Bert solved while Joyce was checking PROSHELTER in the dictionary (at Bert’s request!). Loved the smutty clues especially 18d. There was some really inventive clueing and some lovely surfaces, especially 29ac.

    Thanks Donks – a real delight to solve. When we saw it was you, we decided on an earlier solve than usual.

    Thanks RR – very jealous, we’d loved to have blogged this!

  14. NealH says:

    The speed with which you realized the significance of the “I may” probably depends on how aware of the date you are. I’m normally fairly terrible and can usually only remember to within 3 or 4 days what the current date is. However, today I’d been reminded a couple of times, so spotted the connection immediately. That said, I still found it very difficult to get into the across clues – it was hard to know how to interpret the “I may” bit.

    It goes without saying that CPR gave me loads of trouble – I always have the same problem when things like TV dinner come up. A 3 letter initialisation just doesn’t seem like a word to me. Thanks for explaining brewpub – despite the smuttiness of some of the other clues, my mind did not just did not stoop to that particular meaning of Brazilian.

    It took me ages to work out, but I thought 12 was a great clue.

  15. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Ah well, in a minority of one again …

    But Donk is certainly an up and coming setter, I will agree.

  16. Wil Ransome says:

    This setter is a great new acquisition for the Indy, actually not so new as all that now, but … Some really good clues; initially I wasn’t so excited about the fact that all the acrosses began with ‘I may’, thinking that this would be rather a strain, but as Eimi says he pulled it off admirably. It all seemed very straightforward.

    But the Brazilian was a bit difficult for someone of my sheltered background. And I guessed CPR and rather agree with NealH — a three-letter initialisation doesn’t seem like a three-letter word.

  17. JollySwagman says:

    Very enjoyable. Special flavour there hard to define. A sense of originality in the wordplay but without any crazy devices – no obscurities – plenty to tussle with and yet it yielded its virtues without excessive solving difficulty.

    Many thanks Donk – and RR – agree with your preamble.

  18. Dormouse says:

    well, I spotted the significance of “I may”/1st May straight off. Didn’t help with getting the answers, though. Too difficult for me, got about a third of the answers.

  19. Donk says:

    Morning all,

    Completely overwhelmed with all the fantastic comments about the puzzle – I’m delighted that so many enjoyed solving it.

    Shikasta, I think there might be a different version of the clue online / in the paper. I sent in a late &lit for 22a, ‘I may advertise, for starters, new tape (3-3,4)’ – the other version was ‘I may shortly start to naively tape busker (3-3,4)’.

    I thought the lewdness of 18d was a bit hairy, but it doesn’t seem to have caused too much offence!

    Many thanks to RR for the excellent blog, and to everyone who took the time to comment – looking forward to seeing some of you on Saturday.


  20. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks, shikasta, for pointing out the typo at 17 – obviously, there wasn’t an anagram in sight here; and thanks, Donk, for highlighting the disparity between the online and paper versions of 22 – I prefer the version I got to blog, btw.

    Am glad the compiler was around today to gauge the (ultrapositive) reaction to his puzzle.

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