Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,641 (Sat 7 Mar)/Paul – Star signs

Posted by rightback on March 14th, 2009


Solving time: 7:17

When I first printed this off I thought I must be missing a preamble, but in fact the asterisks in some clues (those starred below) acted as definitions of ‘stars’ in various contexts, such as film stars, astral stars and even an asterisk itself in 20dn. I found most of the puzzle pretty straightforward, but the top right took me a little longer. There are some very good clues including a couple of fantastic anagrams but I thought a few of the surface readings let this down a bit.

Music of the day: There have been a few songs called ‘Stars’ but I’ll go for this one by The Cranberries.

* = anagram.

1 R + A + TRACE
5 RECLAIM; E.C. (= ‘Community’) in R,L (= ‘opposite directions’) + AIM (= ‘seek’)
9 MA(MB)O – ‘red’ as in communist, hence Chairman Mao.
10 BE(GIN)NIN + G – I thought the definition here was going to be ‘guerrilla leader’ so I left it until I had a few checking letters. Strictly something like ‘leader or guerrillas’ is needed to indicate ‘G’, and the surface reading is a bit forced too.
11 VERTEBRAL; VERT + [tre]E + BRA[nch] + L
12 TEENY; T + rev. of NEE + Y – another dodgy surface reading here.
13 [f]LYING – ‘wing’ in the sense of one of the outer letters.
* 15 AL(DEBAR)AN – the brightest star in the constellation ‘Taurus’.
18 CHEONGSAM; (HAS COME)* around N.G.
19 [l]EASES
21 NADIR; (AIR + D[epressio]N)*
23 JAM + B.A. + LAY + A – not a word I knew. This is something like paella, and apparently is from the same root as ‘jambon’ (French for ham, and I think the Spanish is similar). Here’s a recipe from Delia, and another from the BBC.
25 PUNCTILIO; (UNPOLITIC)* – brilliant anagram.
26 SMACK (2 defs)
27 SOBERLY; SLY around (O.B.E. + R) – writing in an initial ‘F’ (for ‘fly’, rather than ‘sly’) didn’t help here.
28 EDA[m] + CITY – the mighty Leicester City making an appearance.
* 2 TO M + CRUISE (= ‘to run smoothly’)
4 EMBARRASS; BARRA in (MESS)* – Barra is a tiny island in the Outer Hebrides.
* 5 RIGEL; rev. of IR, + GEL (= ‘setter’, i.e. something that sets things) – the bright blue-tinged star in the bottom right of the constellation Orion.
6 CON + STABLE; semi-&lit – clever.
7 A (= ‘First to attack’) + LIVE (= ‘be’) – as in the quick and the dead.
* 8 MEG RYAN; (GERMANY)* – another brilliant anagram and an apposite complement to Tom Cruise, with whom Meg Ryan starred in Top Gun.
* 16 DEMI MOORE (hidden backwards)
17 RAS TAFARI; I after (rev. of TSAR, + AFAR) – ‘this one’ meaning ‘this emperor’.
* 18 CANOPUS – I only vaguely knew this so was surprised to learn that it’s the second brightest star in the sky after Sirius, then understood why it wasn’t familiar: it’s not visible north of latitude 37 degrees north, which includes all of Europe.
* 20 STAR KEY – very nice. Richard Starkey was the real name of Ringo Starr, drummer with The Beatles.
* 22 DENEB; rev. of BEND around E – a star in the constellation Cygnus, the swan, which I confess I have no idea how to find in the sky.
23 JOLLY (2 defs) – a jolly is a Royal Marine in crosswords.
24 AT SEA (2 defs)

14 Responses to “Guardian 24,641 (Sat 7 Mar)/Paul – Star signs”

  1. Shirley says:

    Thanks for this Rightback. We too were looking for a rubric for the asterisks and it took a while for the penny to drop!
    23Ac Jambalaya is probably best known to most people as the subject of a Hank Williams song which was a big hit for The Carpenters in the 70’s.

    jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo

    For tonight, I’m a-gonna see my my-my cher a mi-o

    Pick guitar, fill fruit far and be gay-o

    Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Rightback – and for the recipes – and for the video [those were the days].

    [I had ‘FLY’ to begin with, too.]

  3. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    I enjoyed this one – I like ‘multi-interpretation’ themes like this more than (sorry Araucaria) collections of Matthew Arnold poem titles. Ditto the fairly gentle task of working out what was going on. Slightly surprised not to see an anagram of ‘star’ at the beginning of 17, on reflection.

  4. Dave Ellison says:

    A quite easy Paul, which I rattled through (but not quite at your rate). Unfortunately couldn’t get 13a, because I wrongly had REMOVER (VER = little VERA) at 1d. So, thanks for your explanation, rightback.

    I saw the star thing staightaway, and being an amateur astronomer, the heavenly bodies were easy for me.

  5. Colin H says:

    Took me exactly half an hour (I know, because I was sat in internet caff, and paying by that unit). Liked the multiple meanings of “star”, and 18 across.

  6. Ralph G says:

    28a I note that EDACITY failed to rouse hackles among the Saturday solvers, despite being one of those words you wouldn’t normally meet in a lifetime outside a philological context or a crossword. Watch out for ‘edacious’ next.
    Eng. ‘eat’ and Latin ‘edere’ (short ‘e’s) both derive from IE root *ED. but Eng. ‘eat’ comes via the Proto-Germanic root ‘etanan’ – Ger. ‘essen’, Dutch ‘eten’ (also opeten, eat up).
    From the Latin compound ‘comedere’, Eng. has the charming ‘comestible’.

  7. Fletch says:

    I fail to see why you would expect an adverse reaction to the odd non-commonplace word in a Saturday prize puzzle.

  8. Paul B says:

    To be fair, Ralph G merely notes that hackles were not raised.

    Judging from the rest of his learned contribution, it is hard to imagine that he thinks the word should have caused constellation. Sorry, consternation.

  9. Colin H says:

    As a further connection between ‘stars’, Tom Cruise was in “A Few Good Men” with Demi Moore.

  10. Ralph G says:

    28a 778 above. Fletch, I adopt Paul B’s comment. ‘Constellation’ – nice one. I should, of course have nmentioned ‘edible’ as a straight derivation from Latin, giving us a succinct double (Germano/Romance) cognate in eat/edible.
    2d, thankyou rightback for the explanation of TO M. Perhaps I’m one of the two persons on the planet who have never seen a James bond film, and married to the other one.

  11. Fletch says:

    Your comment sounded a bit patronising to me but never mind. I thought hackles were raised rather than roused.

  12. stiofain_x says:

    are you aware what the word condescending means mister f?

  13. Chatmeister says:

    Fletch did not use the word ‘condescending’ but ‘patronising’. Whatever, let’s keep the comments relevant to the puzzle otherwise I will have to dispatch them to Tartarus (see Discussion Policy).

  14. liz says:

    I agree that this way of treating a theme and its interconnections was very elegant. Though I must confess to being a huge fan of Araucaria.

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