Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,683 (Sat 25 Apr)/Araucaria – Poe faced

Posted by rightback on May 2nd, 2009


Solving time: 32:35

Wow, that was difficult – and that despite me knowing (for once) a few of the many literary references. I nearly reached for the dictionary / Google on a few occasions but persevered and got there in the end. I can’t fully explain 3dn or 8dn, though.

Although I enjoyed the challenge of solving this I thought some of the clues were poor, both in terms of the wordplay devices used and the surface readings, several of which are meaningless.

I’m off to the Lake District for the long weekend so won’t be able to respond to any comments until Monday night, so thanks in advance for any clarifications or corrections.

Music of the day: It caused me so much trouble in this that we’d better have The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde by Georgie Fame. I’m sure it was good in its day, and maybe next time I’ll know it.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 GREECE; “GREASE” – this caused me a lot of difficulty because I thought the musical must be Gigi and the answer ‘geegee’ (with 9ac being some literary horse), so couldn’t solve 3dn (or 9ac). Eventually, after getting 9ac, I looked for an alternative solution and saw the answer (my penultimate entry, before 3dn). The clue references the poem To Helen by Edgar Allan Poe (5dn), which features the line “To the glory that was Greece”.
4 TENNYSON; “TENNIS ON” – former Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson; ‘according to’ is superfluous padding.
9 G + LORY – easy if you knew the Poe poem, but difficult for me. The lory is a type of parrot.
10 MEGAVOLTS; GAVO[tte] (or GAVO[t]) in MELTS – the second spelling of the dance is in Collins, so maybe that was the intended version.
12 RAVEN (2 defs) – this is a verb meaning ‘to be hungry’; ‘used’ is a superfluous linking word.
13 TRIAL BALLOON; BALL after (I + A + L), all in TROON – ‘place of golf’ is Royal Troon which last hosted the Open in 2004. I didn’t know this phrase but managed to dissect the wordplay after a struggle; apparently both this and the definition ‘Kite’ can mean ‘a feeler or suggestion to test public opinion’. The surface reading of this clue doesn’t add up to much.
17 ANNA + KAREN + IN A – a novel by Tolstoy; I couldn’t quite remember this but dredged up enough to get it from the wordplay. The Karen are a people of Thailand and Burma.
20 BIRD’S – ‘rejects’ as in ‘leftovers’, I think, hence ‘for the birds’.
21 E.S.P. + OU + SAL’S – ‘where French’ = ‘the French word for “where”‘, hence ‘ou’, and ESP is extra-sensory perception, hence ‘sixth sense’. The definition in the online version is ‘wedding’s in the past’; I think the apostrophe must be a misprint.
23 CONG(OLES)E – ‘congé’ is a French word meaning ‘permission to depart’, i.e. ‘leave’. I’ve only ever come across it in crosswords.
24 HOUSE – a reference to The Fall of the House of Usher, a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Luckily I knew this from a recent Listener crossword.
25 SA(LI)NITY – ‘some lines’ for LI isn’t very good; it’s not even as though it makes for a decent surface reading.
26 ARDEN + T – ‘model’ for T (as in the Ford car) is not one of my favourite indicators.
1 GIGABYTE; G + I + GAB + (YET)* – I spent a while trying to make ‘gigantic’ fit here. As it happens both words are from Greek gigas (‘giant’).
2 ECONOMIC; E, + COMIC around ON – this is a really poor clue: ‘for’ is superfluous, so is ‘to’, and even the definition ‘what will pay’ isn’t quite right; ‘like something that will pay’, or ‘what will pay is’, would work. Again, I’d be more inclined to forgive these shortcomings if the surface reading made sense.
3 CLYDE – my last entry, partly because of an incorrect (if faintly entered) initial ‘E’ from 1ac. This is the second appearance in the clues for Georgie Fame (not a name I knew), this time as himself, referring to the song at the top. I don’t understand the second part of the clue (‘…with carthorses around?’); I did wonder if it was something to do with (carthorses)* = ‘orchestras’, but that seems too far-fetched.
5 EDGAR ALLAN POE; (ON PARADE + LEGAL)* – very good anagram and a nice surface reading, even if ‘characters’ alone doesn’t quite convince me as an anagram indicator.
6 NEVER MORE; (NO VERMEER)* – I didn’t spot the indirect anagram here (Jan Vermeer was a Dutch painter from Delft), but luckily knew the poem in question, Poe’s The Raven, this time from a not-so-recent Listener.
7 SAL + IVA[n]
8 NOSING – this looks like a subtraction along the lines of ‘NO S[peak]ING’, but I’m afraid the Keats reference escapes me.
10 MISMANAGEMENT; (MAGNETISM MEAN)* – another decent anagram but the clue doesn’t really make any sense.
14 LONG + SPOON – which you should use to dine with the devil, as the saying goes, hence ‘for use at diabolical table’. There’s some discussion of this proverb here.
15 DISABUSE (hidden) – another dubious surface.
16 RAP SHEET; “SPARE THE” – a better clue. This is an American term for a criminal record.
18 A,B + A/C + US
19 BRUNEL – the second reference is to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, after whom the university is named, but the lack of a capital on ‘kingdom’ rather spoils the clue, and I don’t think the question mark excuses this inaccuracy, though others may disagree. Why not something like ‘Kingdom’s university?’, putting the capital at the beginning of the clue?
22 US + HER – Chambers defines this as ‘under-teacher (hist.)’, so I think that’s the intention of the definition (‘of the old school’), but perhaps there is a specific school of that name.

11 Responses to “Guardian 24,683 (Sat 25 Apr)/Araucaria – Poe faced”

  1. Biggles says:

    3d surely is a reference to the Ballard of Bonnie and Clyde which you have already quoted. Clyde being the US nickname for Clydesdale horses.

    8dn I can only think relates to Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale – silence is the absence of song – but I agree it would be a rather poor clue.

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi Rightback – and thanks

    The Keats reference is to the last line of La Belle Dame Sans Merci:

    ‘Though the sedge is wither”d from the lake
    and no birds sing.’
    “entry of 20 [birds] into ‘nosing’”. I liked this clue!

  3. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Rightback. 13ac. This clue may have been influenced by the polymath Araucaria knowing that Poe wrote a short story entitled “The Balloon-Hoax”.

  4. cholecyst says:

    22d. I find this hard to believe but this clue seems to be a reference to enamel badges! See

  5. Tim the Newbie says:

    Thanks very much for explaining all of the clues. I’ve been a big Poe fan for ages so got all the literary refs for once and could, e.g., guess 22 and 24 quite easily! And had to resort to google and wikipedia for a fair few tho so all in all I had more than a few answers that I knew were right but not why! Never in my life heard of the phrase ‘trial balloon’. All still easier than last Monday’s tho! Cheers for the illumination!

  6. liz says:

    Thanks Rightback.

    Eileen — I enjoyed 8dn too.

  7. Bryan says:

    I really enjoyed this and I soon got ‘Edgar Allan Poe’ which helped enormously.

    Although I was reasonably confident about ‘Clyde’ (3d), I couldn’t see what it had to do with Shire Horses, until my daughter explained the association.

    I had never heard of a Lory bird previously but opted for ‘Glory’ (9a) because it tied in so nicely.

    I always look forward to an Araucaria puzzle but I found this to be one of his easier ones, particularly for a Prize competition.

    (I’m still struggling with 4 clues from yesterday.)


  8. jvh says:

    I understood 3d to be saying that the Clyde (presumably) runs through (so is surrounded by) Clydesdale, where one would expect to find Clydesdale horses.

  9. InGrid says:

    The surface of 15d surely refers, rather cleverly I think, to the recent slogan on the side of London buses placed by Humanists(?)suggesting the non-existence of a Supreme Being?

  10. Eileen says:

    InGrid: thank you for that. I’d thought that the surface was a bit weak but your interpetation makes good sense.

  11. rightback says:

    Thanks all for the explanations: I didn’t know the ‘Clyde’ horse connection or the Keats poem (pretty specialist!). Also haven’t seen a London bus for quite a while so thanks to InGrid for the suggestion at 15dn.

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