Posted by loonapick on February 27th, 2007
Apologies for the lateness of this entry, but I had technical problems earlier today, and have since had to sit through a mind-numbing Property Strategy meeting for a couple of hours. The delay has nothing to do with the difficulty of the crossword, but if it weren’t for a couple of moments of inspiration and the handiness of an old edition of Chambers, it could have been…
In my opinion, a weekday crossword should be one that can be solved by your average commuter with no access to reference sources, and with words which are in the public domain, or at least which can be worked out and checked later, if necessary. Obscure words or references should be kept to a minimum to allow difficult solutions to be worked out from checked letters. Gordius is one of the more difficult setters due to the proliferation of hard clues in his puzzles, and this one is no exception. It took me a good 35 minutes and even then I still had four or five answers I had to check with Chambers, and a couple I’m still not sure about.
1 CLONE – 151 = CL one – don’t like “the same as” as a definition.
13 MERIMEE – as in Prosper Merimee (1803-1870), the French author. He wrote the novel on which the opera Carmen is based.
15 DURANCE – DU(RAN)CE – I may be misinterpreting this, but I believe the setter wants us to consider “arrested” as “ran in”, so that we get RAN in DUCE (Mussolini). “In durance vile” is an old way of saying “in jail”, especially an unpleasant jail.
18 TWO – (<=owt) – as in Two’s company… 20 ICENI – (nice)*I – the “for” is surely superfluous?
22 ALFALFA – ALF-ALF-A – I can see “boy twice” = ALF twice, but after that, I’m lost. (Explained below by conradcork, thanks!)
27,14dn AMPLITUDE MODULATION – double def., one of which is cryptic.
30 MUSSOLINI – “homophone?” of “muscle” (“strength in voice”)+ in I(taly) – I know I am generally in a minority about homophones, but surely in this case I am right. Mussolini is surely pronounced “MOOSELEENEE”, so the homophone doesn’t work.
31 GLEAN – G-LEAN – The G is gravity, a force of sorts.
1 ACID – referring to acid drops (confectionary) and hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD.
3 WEAR – double def.
4 VINOLENT – obscure word, describing one who likes a drink, and if it loses direction (N) it becomes VIOLENT.
6 VANDERBILT – (led vibrant)* – referring to Cornelius Vanderbilt, an American financier that made a fortune on shipping and railways in the 19th century.
7 CHARON – CHAR-ON – the ferryman who carried dead people over the Styx in Greek mythology.
8 IDLE – homophone of IDOL – Apart from being unimaginative, the clue doesn’t read well. It should read “False god heard not to be working” for the wordplay to make any sense. 13 MAFIA – “starts” Many A Feud In America – poorly disguised and I don’t like the use of single-letter words like A and I in this type of device.
19 OENOPHIL – (hope lion)* – an obscure word for a weekday puzzle, meaning “one who loves wine”.
23 FRAISE – (as rife)* – another obscure word, an archaic word for “commotion”.
24 ADAGIO – ADA -GI-O
26 COMB – C(OM)B – “having teeth” is a poor definition. The wordplay is Order of Merit (OM ) into CB (confined to barracks).
28 INGE – s(INGE)r – referring to William Ralph Inge, who was a professor of divinity at Cambridge and the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral between 1911 and 1934.
29 EDNA – (<=ANDEs)