Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,671 (Sat 11 Apr)/Araucaria – Pork Fest

Posted by rightback on April 18th, 2009


Solving time: 32:30 (1dn and 9dn wrong)

This Bank Holiday special from Araucaria had a special feature in the across clues: the wordplay indicated the answer using a subsidiary word which ended in -ARY, and those letters were removed to get the definition and grid entry. For example, TUBING might have been clued as BINARY inside TUG. Whether there was any deeper significance behind the choice of the -ARY ending I’m not sure, but this was an impressive construction with lots of inventiveness in the across wordplays. I’m not sure the preamble was worded quite correctly, but there were enough kind down clues to enable a start to be made.

I have a number of queries below (e.g. 6ac, 11ac, 31ac, 40ac) and would welcome clarifications, although I’m away for the weekend and won’t be able to reply to any comments until Monday.

Music of the day: Ash’s A Life Less Ordinary, for no better reason than it has the appropriate thematic ending (and it’s a good tune).

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’. {ARY} indicates that these letters were removed before grid entry.

6 CAPITALISM; CAPI? + TALISM[an] – I think in default of a new’ = ‘remove A and N’, but I can’t see where the rest of the clue comes from; it seems to require ‘capiary’ = ‘Chives’ but I can’t find any support for that. The full clue is: “Chives divided with charm in default of a new system”.
11 WE{ARY} + ST – I know the saying ‘to go west’ but not sure what ‘youth’ is doing here.
12 BURS{ARY} + ERA – a tree yielding timber and the resin elemi.
14 CANTHI; CAN{ARY} + THI[s] – the canthus is the angle where upper and lower eyelids meet.
17 LAD + DE{ARY} + R[ight] – the ‘me’ in this clue confused me a bit. At first I thought it was a nod to the phrase ‘deary me’, but that’s not said to show affection. Maybe it’s just extraneous padding?
20 ANDROMEDA; ANA (as in ‘Victoriana’) around DROMED{ARY} – ‘saved Galaxy’ because Andromeda was rescued by Perseus in Greek mythology.
22 CACTUS; ACTU{ARY} in CS [gas] – excellent clue. For a long time I thought ‘Calculator’ was going to be ‘abacus’.
25 BESTIR ONESELF; BESTI{ARY} + rev. of SENOR + ELF – a lovely charade…
26 THE SACRAMENT OF UNCTION; THE + SACRAMENTO + FUNCTION{ARY} – …and an even better one. I didn’t know this phrase but eventually thought of ‘functionary’.
31 VIPER’S BUGLOSS; VI (= ‘number’) + PER (= ‘by’) + (BUS)* + GLOSS{ARY} – not sure why this is ‘Serpentine grower’ – any offers?
36 F + ESTU{ARY} + S – this could be Porcius Festus (what a brilliant name), procurator of Judea, but I think it’s probably intended as the historian Festus, proconsul of Africa.
37 LUN{ARY} + CH + TIME (= ‘enemy’) – ‘lunary’ is the plant honesty.
38 RAMP; RAP around M{ARY} – ‘knockabout’ has to be split into ‘knock about’ here.
40 SC{ARY} + ALES – I don’t know why this ‘sign’ (presumably the star sign Libra) is associated with ‘west’.
43 ETOURDI; E[nglish] TOUR DI{ARY} – excellent.
45 INVADE; V{ARY} in (AND I.E.)*
47 QUAND{ARY} + ONG – what a great word. As well as a sandalwood tree this can mean ‘a disreputable person’, especially in the sense of a sponger.
48 ALUMINA; LUMIN{ARY} in A.A. – aluminium oxide. The definition is ‘hard stuff’, so I guess alumina is a hard coating?
50 SAL{ARY} + T
1 RYEDALE; RYE (= ‘Whisky’) + D (= ‘end of and’) + ALE (= ‘chaser’) – not sure about ‘chaser’ = ALE. Maybe I have misunderstood this? I couldn’t see the wordplay here and put in ‘Ryegate’, although given the ‘Yorkshire’ clue I should really have thought of ‘dale’.
2 PETIT (hidden) – as in ‘petit fours’.
3 IMBRICATE; I’M + BRIC[k] + AT + E (= east, i.e. a point of the compass) – both a verb and an adjective, meaning ‘to overlap’/’overlapping’ respectively
5 DIE – as in ‘straight as a die’. Nice idea but I don’t think this one quite works.
6 CRABB; C + RABB[it] – I had no idea who this was but this explains – he’s apparently the man who inspired Fleming to invent James Bond.
7 PIFFERARO; P + (FORFAR + I.E.)* – a ‘piffero’ is an Italian bagpipe, and this is someone who plays it.
8 TRAIL (2 defs) – brilliant.
9 LORD DACRE; (D.D. + A/C) in LORRE – this is Hugh Trevor-Roper, and the actor is Peter Lorre. I didn’t know either name and although ‘Dacre’ rang a bell I went for ‘Dacie’ because ‘Lorie’ looked vaguely familiar and ‘Lorre’ not so likely.
10 SIN + C.E.
16 LYONS; “LIONS” – do we really pronounce it like that? Football fact of the day: Lyon are, in domestic terms, currently the most successful club in Europe, having won the French League for seven consecutive seasons.
19 TO(V)ES – from Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky.
21 EDI(C)T
22 CLEAN (2 defs) – as in ‘clean as a whistle’, and if an aircraft is carrying no weapons (or, technically, other under-wing stores such as auxiliary fuel tanks) then it is ‘clean’. I was very slow with this one.
23 UP FRONT; PF[ennig] in (OUR)*, + N.T.
24 LE HAVRE; EH (= ‘I couldn’t hear what you said’) in LAV, + RE – nice clue.
27 CORPS[e] – not sure whether this is clever or a bit weak, since the two words are essentially the same. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.
28 EL + GIN
29 FESTIVITIES; (FIVE SETS)* around (IT + I[nterfere]) – good tennis-themed clue.
30 TAVER[y/n] – a ‘Scots scrap’ is a ‘taver’ and ‘name from pub’ gives ‘taver[n]‘ and I think ‘Thank you very’ is ‘ta very’ with ‘much’ indicating ‘much of’, i.e. remove the last letter. A bit dubious but the answer is clear enough!
32 PET + U + LANCE
34 O(THE)R
35 PREDICATE; PRATE around EDIC[t] – a grammatical and logical term which I won’t try to explain!
39 MUD + D + LED – ‘Giving bad name’ as in ‘his name was mud’.
41 CHURR; C + HURR[icane] – this is asking a bit much!…
42 [cros]SWORD – …and perhaps so is this, but I liked this more once I saw it.
46 VI + SIT
49 URD[u] – Urdu is the official language of Pakistan.

31 Responses to “Guardian 24,671 (Sat 11 Apr)/Araucaria – Pork Fest”

  1. Phi says:

    6a – I didn’t see this when solving but it’s obvious now – CHIVES = CAPI by reason of C-HIVES = C-API(ARY). A credible example of Araucaria’s style, but a little tough given the gimmick.

  2. David says:

    Thanks, Rightback. I enjoyed this, once I found the 3 letters, and for a change, didn’t need the weekend to complete it!

    11a Famous (?) saying: “Go West, young man”, but not sure who said it, and in what circumstances.

    31a I took this as Serpentine = like a snake, and bugloss is a type of plant, to give the specific bugloss. (I think)

    40a Timothy West and Prunella Scales are married to each other.

    And thanks Phi: although I got CAPITALISM, I couldn’t parse it.

  3. Tim the Newbie says:

    I unwisely ventured into this after only a few months of attempting the occasional crossword and frankly found it astoundingly difficult – the preamble was more confusingly worded than it needed to be and there are far too many bizarre and obscure words for a neophyte such as myself. E.G. Bugloss!!!??? I only got about half a dozen clues over the week, never mind doing the thing on Saturday. Trying to do this made me feel like listening to Shostokovich for the first time! Oh well, thanks very much for the explanations!

  4. petebiddlecombe says:

    40A: As well as married, at least Scales of the two is a big fan of the Guardian puzzle and Araucaria in particular – “My constant bedtime companion”, she says in some of the blurb for a Chambers Araucaria book.

    Viper’s and other BUGLOSS come up from time to time so worth remembering. If you ever need to actually say it, it’s “bewgloss” not “bug-loss” – the name comes from something trumpetty.

  5. Ian says:

    David, it was Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, who said “Go West, young man”.

  6. Mr Beaver says:

    Tim – don’t be too downhearted ! I think it takes months or years of practice to warp your mind sufficiently to tackle most Guardian cryptics, and Araucaria is often (as here) more twisted than most.

    We did manage to finish this, though it took us well into Sunday evening. Rightback’s solving times leave me frankly amazed – unless they’re in hours:minutes ;-).

    There were several classic Araucaria moments for me, eg 6d, where you think ‘well I can see how this would work if CRABB was a frogman…’ and a moment on Wikipedia reveals that indeed he was. Similarly 7d, the anag and crossing letters suggested PIFFERARO, ‘You’re making that up!’ says Mrs Beaver scornfully, but once again, a genuine word. Very educational, the Guardian.

    Oh, and Chives = CAPIARY – truly groanworthy !

  7. cholecyst says:

    19d. Definition of “toves” from Through the Looking Glass:
    Well, “toves” are something like badgers – they’re something like lizards – and they’re something like corkscrews.’
    This according to Humpty Dumpty whose wise words earlier in the book ought to be engraved on every Fifteensquared bloggers’ screen:

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’

  8. Barnaby Page says:

    I wonder which clue provided the “Eureka moment” for each of us? For me it was the brilliant 26ac (though if one wants to be picky I think the port is actually West Sacramento, not Sacramento); for my friend it was 18,24.

    I agree that it was difficult to immediately see what was going on from the preamble – although the wording is perfectly accurate, it wasn’t clear at first whether the solutions themselves were going to be incomplete words.

    Thanks, Rightback, for PIFFERARO – PIFFERO had been at the back of my mind all week (I know more useless Italian words than useful ones, for some reason, SQUARTATORE being one of the finest and least practical…) but I couldn’t retrieve it.

  9. cholecyst says:

    Barnaby , SQUARTATORE as in Jack lo squartatore I presume. You’re right about it being least practical. Not sure about finest though.

  10. Barnaby Page says:

    Cholecyst – precisely. I live in hope it will turn up in a crossword one day. (And now we must stop straying off-topic.)

  11. Epee says:

    Good blog of a good crossword – made a refreshing change from the recent run of literary themes I thought.

    Got almost everything right, but fell with capitalisT rather than capitalisM, I saw the api-ARY connection but got confused over hives = apiarys (!),a nd thought talisman was devoid of a new MAN.

    I wrote in etourdi for 43Ac reluctantly, since could not find in dictionary. Online the only reference were to a french word and a Moliere play, the definition of which seemed to be more in the line of troublesome rather than frivolous. A good clue construction , but right on the limits of definition.

    Thanks to the people who pointed out how Scales and West are united – a bit obscure ?

  12. Barnaby Page says:

    By the way, Rightback – Pork Fest??? Probably being dim, but don’t get it!

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi Barnaby

    It was 18,24 for me, too, and I thought it was ironical that AVIARY was the first clue that I got and APIARY the last one I understood – C hives indeed!

    This was great fun, with practically every across answer eliciting an ‘aha’.

    Rightback, I’m not sure what your doubts about ‘chaser’ are. I’d always thought that whisky was the chaser but Chambers gives ‘chaser: a drink of a different, usually complementary or contrasting, type, drunk immediately after another’. A great clue.

    My money’s on Festus the governor of Judea, who appears in the Acts of the Apostles. [This is Araucaria:-)]

    Epee, etourdi is in Chambers: ‘thoughtless, foolish or frivolous’.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog — I didn’t understand the wordplay for 6ac and would never have got ‘C-hives’!

    I got 26ac and 18,24 v early without understanding what was going on. Then the penny dropped with 50ac and 35ac.

    22ac misled me for a long time — I couldn’t get ‘abacus’ out of my head, but when I finally saw it I really liked it. Ditto for 43ac, which was the last one to go in.

    Like Eileen, I’m fairly sure the Judean governor Porcius Festus is the one referred to. Hence Rightback’s Pork Fest, Barnaby!

    I usually find puzzles like this where something is subtracted v hard to get my head round, but the relatively (!) easy down clues made this more possible for me. Lots of fun!

  15. cholecyst says:

    Rightback, maybe you’ve hit upon the significance of ARY in the example in yr preamble. The across solutions are formed from two parts i.e. they are BINARY, And what does BINARY tell us to do? Bin the ARY. Fanciful, or what?

  16. Mr Beaver says:

    Cholecyst – that’s out-twisting Araucaria! I think if that was the inspiration, he’d have worked it in somewhere. Though I admit that I wondered why ARY was chosen – a fairly random letter sequence, albeit commonly-occurring.

  17. petero says:

    Peter B – bugloss is bu-gloss (oxtongue) from its large rough leaves. Like some others, it seems, my first across answer was to 18/24; ‘toves’ gave me enough confidence to put it in whatever the preamble meant. One of the troubles with prize crosswords is that I’m not now quite sure on which clue the penny actually dropped – perhaps 37A: I knew Lunaria as the Latin name for Honesty, and that seemed too close to be irrelevant. A dip into Chambers produced the Anglicized version lunary, and there we are.
    Thanks to Araucaria for another sparkling crossword, and to Rightback for the blog. I have the feeling that the prime reason that I can generally solve Araucaria’s offerings (and Paul’s) is simply that I am willing to plug away at them in the confidence of finding yet another inventive gem, at a stage when I might be losing interest in a less inspired setter’s crossword.

  18. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, rightback. This was just right for the bank holiday weekend, I thought.

    The thing that gave away the -ARY them for us was the camel and galaxy connection, although that was the last clue we actually put in because of not knowing ANA for “stories”. I looked it up in Chambers, of course, but ineptly missed the noun sense of “a collection of someone’s table talk or of gossip, literary anecdotes or possessions” at the end of the entry for “-ana” as a suffix…

  19. Jayphid says:

    I was convinced that 38 must be ‘ROMP’ for a while, as I discovered a definition of ‘romp’ that was something like ‘a girl given to boisterous play.’ Seemed close enough to ‘knockabout girl’ to make sense, but obviously then I couldn’t make the missing ‘ARY’ work. I wonder if this was an intended piece of misdirection (fairly obscure if so!) or just happy (or unhappy for me) coincidence?

    Got there in the end. But ‘ETOURDI’ was the one that eluded me!

  20. Biggles says:

    Splitting hairs I know but I find a piffero is most like an oboe and an aircraft can be clean but carrying an internal weapons load. I think the reference is to a person – frisked for weapons but clean. This one was quite a challenge, etourdi was my last and I only got there by trawling the OED.

  21. Ralph G says:

    22d CLEAN and 20 above, Chambers does say “having nothing illegal … on one’s person”.
    26a THE SACRAMENT OF UNCTION. Looking for confirmation/correction here (on the usage solely). “The sacrament of _extreme_ unction” is familiar and attested in Chambers/OED (which helpfully list the seven sacraments of the RC and Eastern churches) but I can’t find support for the phrase without the “extreme”.
    X-ref for serious Francophiles: a late-posted note on ÉTALON at #19 of last Saturday’s blog.

  22. Eileen says:

    Ralph, if you google ‘sacrament of unction’, you will find plenty of references. I think the term ‘extreme unction’ is perhaps generally more familiar but, from the earliest days of the church, it was common practice to anoint with oil anyone who was sick and not just those in extremis. From the Epistle of James:”If one of you is ill he should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins he will be forgiven. So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another and this will cure you.”

  23. Ralph G says:

    22 above, Eileen, thankyou for that, lots of interesting stuff there. I could have believed “_a_ sacrament ..” etc but I see now that the usage “_the_ sacrament of unction of xyz” is a standard usage.
    Incidentally, ‘extreme’ in “extreme function” is an example for me of knowing that a particualr meaning, is intended by the author and so understood by others, but other meanings share the forefront of my mind. An example in French would be ‘se débrouiller’ which native French speakers use in a complimentary sense of ‘manage’, whereas I’m more conscious its prior meaning of ‘get oneself out of a spot of bother’

  24. liz says:

    I thought that the ‘maybe’ in the clue indicated that it didn’t have to be ‘extreme’ unction.

  25. Eileen says:

    Yes, thank you, Liz. That is the way I originally took it. The trouble with these prize crosswords is that you forget your thought processes in the meantime. I answered Ralph’s comment without going back to the clue.

  26. rightback says:

    Thanks for the explanations of C-HIVES = C-APIARY (difficult!), “Go west young man”, ‘Serpentine’ and the Scales-West partnership.

    ETOURDI (comment 11) – as Eileen points out, this is in Chambers, which seems to be a standard reference for the Guardian when it comes to obscure words.

    ‘Chaser’ (comment 13) – thanks for questioning this, Eileen: I’d only considered the standalone ‘chaser’ = ALE, which seemed dubious, and not realised the significance of it following RYE.

    Barnaby, I can only apologise for what was a pretty rubbish title this week (see 36ac). I’ll try to come up with something better in future!

  27. Paul (not Paul) says:

    For the record, Girlfriend and I found this really hard. We were away from civilisation for the BH weekend and thus had no resort even to dictionary never mind internet.

    Too many clues would have only succumbed to reference material. The unction of…etc (Sometimes I feel Araucaria is intentionally punishing us atheists); Ryedale – never heard of despite being a visitor to Yorkshire Dales on a number of occasions; Bestir Oneself!!! (What does this mean?); Festus!!!!!! – Has anybody heard of this person? Did anyone get this without further research.

    Even when we had spotted the -ary device. The answers were too obscure and the cluing too intricate. I know in this day and age the setters presume that most of us are on-line or capable of being so but surely Bank Holiday is a time when people may be on away and a bigger crossword is appreciated but perhaps one we could solve without Wiki and friends.

    It was a good job the sun shone and we didn’t have to spend all our time getting frustrated at the crossword.

  28. Ralph G says:

    24 above. Liz, you’re quite right. ‘Extreme unction’ was the only sacrament I knew that had the word ‘unction’ in it, as opposed to involving anointment. As I found out, there are lots more.

  29. rightback says:

    Paul (not Paul) and Girlfriend – I certainly see your point (and concur that Bank Holidays free of civilisation and Internet are the way forward). In fairness to Araucaria, though, it was possible (though by no means easy – I failed on 1dn) to get the four clues you cite from the wordplay, though I think FESTUS was pushing it in terms of obscurity, however nice the ‘Estuary English’ wordplay. I’d rather have something like this than a puzzle with, say, a strong literary theme without knowledge of which it’s impossible to do the last 20% (say).

  30. Bridge, Brills and Nonchalant says:

    A wonderful Easter gift from Araucaria! Far from easy but true to what is expected from him. Intelligent and, eventually, accessible and resolvable clues which treated the solver with respect while teasing and beguiling all efforts! Have not completed it yet but will not put it aside as it brings so much confounding pleasure! Thank you Araucaria

  31. Pam says:

    This was Araucaria at his best. I have just finished it! Etourdi eluded me for ages though it was in Chambers, and Ryedale also, but all the others I worked out or found somewhere. I love these crosswords because all the searching means I actually learn something! I would say to Tim the Newbie – keep trying and go over the answers – it really is worth it.

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