Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 834 — Hero by Lato

Posted by Colin Blackburn on October 31st, 2008

Colin Blackburn.

My initial reading of the preamble left me confused. Were the two word unclued entries spread over two lights each or just one? The other two entries clued by extra words, were they two of the six unclued lights or was there some overlap? No worries, just move on to the solving and think about the directly unclued lights later. Even that wasn’t so simple. Three clues with no definition, four clues with an extra word and all down clues with extra letters resulting from the word play. Could any of the first seven clues be down clues? That seems harsh so I’ll assume they are across clues and are distinct.

Once I’d decided to assume things were relative simple the answers went in fairly quickly; almost all the clues were straightforward and fair. The only mistake I made was missing the extra word in 38, I assumed “Pole” have the S in the answer, missing the role of “has”. This left me looking for a missed extra word in the other clues. I even got as far as wondering whether “gradually” was needed in 39.

In the down clues I had the extra letters giving me SEA FOG, CAT SOUND, and PASTURE (in clue order). I spent a little too long trying to fit in “mew” before my cat informed me that she made other noises too…”haar”, “purr”, “lea”…Harper Lee…To Kill a Mockingbird. This fitted with the three undefined entries, GOMBO, KID and CLINK leaving TRIAL left to write under the grid. The hero of the book is the lawyer Atticus Finch. All I had to do now was to fill in the other entries in the grid.

AMERICAN and FLIER looked obvious and would seem to indicate mockingbird. So, this pair indicate a word in the title but I think the link to Finch is then a bit weak. A mockingbird is a thrush, of sorts, and a finch is not specifically American. Oddly, as I type this up there’s a piece on the radio about Charles Darwin. He apparently first observed mockingbirds rather than finches in his development of his theory of evolution. Another pair looked ripe for splitting into two words each but (a) I looked at them in the wrong order for a while, assuming the second novel started with THE, and (b) I was thinking about whether Harper Lee ever wrote anything else. I went on to look at the other two entries. I noticed that one ended in PECK and that Gregory Peck played Finch in the film adaptation. Could RYPECK be a word? Lo and behold, it’s a “mooring pole” which confirmed the missing one of the four extra word. So, what about GREGO? A hooded jacket! Very clever. Finally, returning to the other two entries and swapping the order gave ROOM AT THE TOP which hints at Atticus.

After the initial confusion and a few short cul-de-sacs that was a very enjoyable puzzle and, for me, and good start to my own EV blogging.

1 CHARGER CHAR+GER nice simple start, a CHARGER is flat dish for holding a joint of meat.
9 CARNAL R in CANAL hooded is an extra word here.
12 TOME TOM+E a TOM is a big bell.
13 COLLEGIAN (CALLING+OE)* “home regularly” gives the OE.
15 SHRI poliSHRIght SHRI is an Indian title originally meaning majesty or holiness, it’s now a respectful title akin to Mr.
19 CLINK C+LINK(s) undefined.
20 EOSIN (IS ONE)* a potassium salt, a red dye apparently.
21 E-FIT (F in TIE)< E-FIT is the modern (electronic) form of of the photo-fit, a composite image of a person based on witness descriptions.
23 SERBO-CROATIAN (IS BOAT NEAR ROC(k))* mooring is an extra word here. You won’t find too many people in what was much of Yugoslavia claiming to speak SERBO-CROATIAN. Most now speak Serbia, Croatian, Bosnian,…
27 BECOME COM in BEE jacket is an extra word here.
30 MENU EN in MU
31 OBANG GABON* an OBANG is an old Japanese coin.
32 GOMBO GO+MB+O undefined. GOMBO is another spelling of gumbo, aka okra.
33 KID KI(n)D undefined. I held off on this one until confirmed by the novel’s anagram. Although it fitted the wordplay I wasn’t convinced the answer was unique given that he first letter as unchecked.
36 NISI NI< + SI with “in” appearing in the clue I faffed a bit here to see the word play.
38 OSLO ‘S+LO after O pole is an extra word here. As mentioned in my introduction I originally had “pole” = S.
39 PETER OUT (REPE(a)T)* one of those cunning reverse cryptics, PETER OUT indicates REPET, ie “repeat” with a = answer missing.
2 HECHT HE+ECHT a Sots vow. Echt means genuine.
3 RELICT” (CLEAR IT)* an odd word with mainly archaic or scientific meanings. Here it is defined as an adjective meaning “left behind”.
7 ABASE GAB+A+ES< ES is the IVR for El Salvador.
8 NODOSE CON< + DOSE ie with nodes.
9 LEVEN LEAVE+N Loch LEVEN is in the Lomond Hills and is the largest loch in lowland Scotland.
11 DIE dd DIET
14 EVINCE VIN in SEC+E took me a little while to untwist this one. VIN is in SEC rather than VIN in something to do with Spain.
17 COPT CO+OPT exactly what it says in the clue.
22 FEEBLISH FEE+BLUISH FEE is French for fairy. BLUISH is a wonderful part of the word play. Probably my favourite clue.
24 BONE dd BONNE BONE is slang for seize.
25 ARBORET BOR in TREAD* BOR means a neighbour. A new one on me.
28 CAILLE AL in ALICE* AL = Alabama.
29 TOPPER dd STOPPER I’m not sure what the “(it is in America)” is doing here. TOPPER as a hat isn’t specified as a US term in Chambers.
30 MONERA MENTOR* + A here’s the dictionary definition of moneron
31 OFLOT O+FLOUT OFLOT was the regulatory body charged with the UK National Lottery. It has since been replaced by the National Lottery Commission, hence the use of “old” in the clue.
35 IMP IMPE(l)

3 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations 834 — Hero by Lato”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    In my case, the thematic elements fell out in almost the reverse order to yours and, unless I have misread your blog, I had a different interpretation for the second book title and two of the unclued words.

    ‘Room at the top’ gives ‘attic’
    ‘American flier’ is ‘US finch’ rather than ‘mockingbird’
    Combine the two to get ‘Atticus Finch’

  2. Colin Blackburn says:

    Thanks for the explanation. This is much more fitting, more like the GREGO/RYPECK break than my interpretation of two vague hints.

  3. Lato says:

    Thanks for the blog and comment.

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