Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24722 / Shed

Posted by mhl on June 10th, 2009


This strong week in the Guardian continues with this enjoyable, but quite tough, puzzle from Shed. (I only finished this with the help of my partner, having trouble with 10a, 11a, 10d and 6d.) There are a mix of very good surface readings and some rather strained ones – I think my favourites were 21a, 25a and 3d

1. COSMOS Cryptic definition: Chambers defines cosmos as “the world or universe as an orderly or systematic whole”. (Apparently there’s also a genus of plants called cosmos, but a genus is distinct from an order.)
4. OBSTACLE CATS = “jazzmen” in ELBO[w] all reversed; the sense of a let being an OBSTACLE is archaic (although related to a “let” in tennis, Chambers tells me – they both come from the Old English “lettan” meaning “to hinder”)
9. LEASE L = “student” + EASE = “relax”
10. PANTIHOSE POSE = “sit” around ANTI = “opposing” + H = “hot”
11. CONCIERGE Rather difficult: C ONE = “101” split by CI = “itself” + ERG = “work unit”
17. GOVERNMENTAL VERNE = “Writer” around M = “many” followed by books = NT all in GOAL = “end”
21. NEIGHBOUR NEIGH = “Animal noise” + BO = “human stench” + UR = “old city”
24. ALIEN LIE = “misrepresentation” in AN = “Article”
25. MONOGRAM MOG = “Puss” around NO, followed by RAM = “memory”
26. BEREFT F[eather] in BERET
2. SEA SNAKE E-KANSAS = “Electronic City” around E = “energy” all reversed
3. OBELI Reversed hidden answer; an obelus is one of these: †
5. BINGE DRINKING BIN = “Throw out” + GRIN = “smile” around ED = “journalist” followed by KING = “monarch”
6. THIGHBONE HIGH = “Tripping” in TB = “disease” + ONE; this refers to the song Dem Bones, which, if I recall correctly, has the line “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone”
7. CROCUS CROC = “Reptile” on US = “American”
10. PARAPHERNALIA PARP = “Horn blast” around A, follwed by AL = “little boy” in HERNIA = “rupture”
14. SCOTCH EGG EGG = “Encourage” after SCOTCH = “drink”
15. ATROPINE (RAT)* + OPINE = “Declare view”
18. WIGWAM WIG = “Something Mozart often wore” + WAM = “his initials”
19. LEGION EG = “say” in LION = “cat”

43 Responses to “Guardian 24722 / Shed”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the great blog, mhl. Yes, another excellent week so far.

    I needed your help for 8dn [I had ‘emetic’, which, of course, I couldn’t explain] and for the parsing of 6dn.

    4ac was familiar from the legal term ‘let or hindrance’.

    As well as the clues you mentioned, I liked COLD CALL, too.

  2. Ian W. says:

    I thought 10D was PA (public address = horn) + RAP (blast), etc. I’ve never heard of a “parp”.

  3. chunter says:

    Ian W: ‘parp’ is in both Chambers and the OED.

  4. Ian P says:

    It has been a good week so far. Prize crossword by Rover on saturday, perhaps?

  5. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. Another really good puzzle, which I particularly enjoyed because I have found Shed really tricky at times.

    Eileen — I had EMETIC too — like you, I couldn’t explain it.

    I really liked 6dn and 21ac.

    Did Toad go ‘parp, parp’ in his car? Or am I misremembering it?

  6. mhl says:

    liz: I think Mr Toad went “poop poop” :)

    Eileen: thanks for reminding me of “without due let or hindrance” – I should have remembered it from the classic text in the front of my passport…

    Ian P: I’m hoping for an Enigmatist or Pasquale tomorrow :)

  7. NeilW says:

    I was going really well with this – sometimes by reverse engineering using the checking letters for some of the more complicated word plays but drew a complete blank on 1 ac, which stopped me finishing, so thank you for the answer; unfortunately, it feels a bit unsatisfactory given the high quality of the rest of the clues…

    Ian P and mhl: If we are following Biggles from Saturday, expect Enigmatist and Araucaria to come this week?

  8. Pricklewedge says:

    I had EMETIC for no good reason too

  9. liz says:

    mhl, thanks. Of course it was ‘poop, poop’!

  10. muck says:

    A fair & challenging puzzle, which I enjoyed.
    Like NeilW, I blanked on 1ac COSMOS.

  11. Brian Harris says:

    It’s been a great week so far. Enjoyed this today, and a fun Paul yesterday too. Brendan on Monday was excellent – the highlight for a while.

  12. Derek Lazenby says:

    Beat me. Not sure how you guys get some of these. Without checking letters, how do you pick a city or writer out of thousands?

    Looking at the mysteries revealed above I note “the world or universe as an orderly or systematic whole”. Who writes this drivel? What is orderly or systematic about chaos and randomness?

    Abuses of the language are accepted into dictionaries in the name of modernisation. Then they come out with an obsolete fairy-tale for a definition. Consistent eh?

  13. liz says:

    Derek — I can’t say for the others, but I only got SEA SNAKE and GOVERNMENTAL from the checking letters. GOVERNMENTAL was the last one I got. It wasn’t until I read the blog that I saw the wordplay.

  14. Brian Harris says:

    I’m with all the complainers about 1ac. Still doesn’t make any sense to me.

  15. Eileen says:

    Considering the present state of the world, I can sympathise with problems re 1ac!

    Cosmos is a Greek word, basically meaning ‘order’, which the ancient Greeks applied to the whole of creation, which they saw as ‘an orderly and systematic whole’, having arisen from ‘Chaos’, which is its oppposite.

  16. Neil says:

    Unusually for me (except with ‘Quick’ or ‘Concise’) I tried all the across then all the down clues, then a few more with the extra checking letters. Dunno why but they were practically falling out of the end of the pen and I was left with only four to do. 17a (with all the checks) sent me up too many blind alleys until the blinkers shifted and GOVERNMENTAL came flying from the lights – then not too hard to see why. 25a caused too much mucking about with ‘cat’ and ‘tom’. At 8d I avoided writing in EMETIC as it couldn’t be justified but, Aha! moment, saw (n)EMESIS, but had to check a dictionary (any dictionary!). Then I really let myself down by putting CUSTOM at 1a. Thought it might just about work. Thanks for making me feel a little less stupid with comments above. Apart from those last four this all felt pretty straightforward and not particularly ingenious. No laugh-out-louds either.

  17. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yup, can’t argue with that Eileen, but that meaning is dead and gone. A cosmologist studies what? The cosmos? How amusing then that their own observations lead them to spend so much effort applying chaos theory! 10 out of 10 to the Greeks for a nice idea based on limited information, but we have moved on since then, as have the words.

  18. liz says:

    Eileen — That was my understanding of 1ac too. Chambers has ‘(as opposed to chaos)’ in the definition. I didn’t think it was the world’s best clue, however.

  19. Dagnabit says:

    I’m another who had EMETIC for a good long while, and COSMOS was last to go in. With an especially high number of these clues (11ac, 17ac, 23ac, 25ac, 2d, 5d, 6d, 10d, and 16d!), I got the answer purely from the definition and only figured out the wordplay after I could see the answer entered into the grid.

    Question for the experts: is it strictly kosher to use two different concepts for the identical letter in a single clue, such as “electronic” and “energy” for the two E’s in 2d?

  20. Marjory says:

    Many of the above posters say what a wonderful week it’s been. As a bit of a novice, can I just say that I’ve found a dreadful one. What happened to the easy Monday crossword? When I see clues like 1ac, I must admit that I despair.
    Can someone explain why 1d is a good clue? Why ‘offload’?

  21. brr says:

    Stick with it Marjory, these things tend to go in cycles. You never know, next week might be a Rufus week long residency.

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    Marjory, know what you mean, but back in December when I’d just been chucked out of hospital with my mending leg, I wouldn’t have got anywhere with the first two, but now I can. So stick with this bunch, they are worth knowing.

    As to, offload, that is a modern trend that anagram indicators are not necessarily separate words, so you have to translate offload into “off load”, meaning load is off or to be mangled.

  23. mhl says:

    Marjory: the “offload” bit is a little cheeky – “off” is the anagram indicator while “load” is part of the anagram fodder, along with the two CLs from 2×150… I hope that even if it’s been a tough week the answers have made sense (and seemed fair) after the fact? Hugh Stephenson has said in his newsletter in the past that there are lots of complaints when there’s not a Rufus on Monday, so I’m sure that’s just a one-off – perhaps because of the Orwell anniversary?

  24. Ygor says:

    2D In what sense is Kansas a city? It’s a state, and the city of Kansas City would never be referred to as simpy “Kansas”.

    3D Also, isn’t there a rule about definitions appearing at the beginning or end of a clue? In 3D “footnote markers” is smack in the middle. There’s lttle enough that a poor solver like me can cling to in the cosmos of cryptics. If there are no rules, then chaos reigns.

  25. Shirley says:

    Marjory – twice CL is 2×150 so you take “off” from load and add 2×150 “clCL”on to get a cold call.
    Nice to see Ur everyone’s favourite old city occurring twice in two days: 21Ac and 18Down yesterday.

  26. ray says:

    Thanks for several explanations mhl. I’d got about half a dozen ‘it must be that’s from crossing letters, with no real idea why. I also had EMETIC for 8d and CUSTOM seemed the only vague possibility for 1a.

  27. Joan Miro says:

    I had CUSTOM for 1a – which seems just as likely a fit as COSMOS as far as I can make it out

  28. Dagnabit says:

    Shirley – in the world of crosswords I think Ur is the *only* old city that has ever existed! :)

  29. Shed says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    mhl: I’d never heard of the genus ‘cosmos’ and 1ac was supposed to be a cd as you explain. But Derek (comment 12): I don’t personally conceive of the universe as an organised whole either, but we still need words to express concepts we don’t agree with. Would you expunge ‘heliocentrism’ and ‘witch’ from the dictionary too? However, I accept that this was a rather lazy clue.

    Ygor (comment 24): you’re quite right about Kansas and I apologise. 3dn is admittedly heretical if Ximenes is still Grand Inquisitor, but it does have a question mark at the end which usually means ‘I’m not really sticking to the rules here’.

  30. Dave Ellison says:

    I’m with the Custom/Emetic group. I wrote down CAS_O_, CES_O_ etc and then went through every letter of the alphabet for the 4th letter, but only CUSTOM popped out.Why is this? – is it like people denying there is a word _ENY (even when given a good hint, as here)

  31. Eileen says:

    Hi Dagnabit

    I agree that UR is pretty much a cliché in crosswords but we’ve seen THEBES [Greek and Egyptian] quite regularly, too.

    I still think 1ac is a good clue – but then I’m an elderly idealist Classicist and recognise that several of you are younger realist / pragmatic scientists / mathematicians. :-)

  32. golgonooza says:

    Derek: look at the cosmos and you will find many things that follow observable orderly patterns, from as local a level as the predictable phases of the moon, the eclipse cycle (the interplay of sun and moon), the orbits of the planets in our solar system, the movement of comets in and out of our solar system, and on a galactic level you will also see ordered self-similarity across massive scales such as the patterns created by galaxies which spiral around in much the same way as a shell might on the earth. There are also events and objects that have no discoverable orderliness and appear randomly. Such random events were fitted into the overall Greek scheme of order and had their place alongside the predictable parts – without upsetting things too much. To be honest I see your belief that the universe is “chaos and randomness” as just that – a belief for which you select certain facts to support, but that doesn’t represent the totality of reality.

  33. Eileen says:

    Once again, slow in typing, I hadn’t seen Shed’s comment before posting mine.

    Yet again, Shed, many thanks for your contribution.

  34. Eileen says:

    Golgonooza – hurrah!

  35. golgonooza says:

    Thank you Eileen!

  36. liz says:

    Thanks to Shed for responding!

  37. Ygor says:

    Shed – Thanks for the honor of your reply. I must say, I didn’t expect the Ximenean Inquisition (although he did make the trains run on time.)

  38. Dagnabit says:

    Eileen, you’re absolutely right about THEBES, of course. And I didn’t mind 1ac either.

  39. Derek Lazenby says:

    golgonooza, the things that appear ordered and structured are only thus by not looking hard enough. They are also ephemeral, one day the moon will be out of earth orbit, one day there will be no earth, no solar system, no galaxy. All these things are created from chaotic events (the Greeks got that bit right), but they have no permanence. Everything also ceases, frequently in chaotic circumstances, even galaxies. A supernova may be predictable (one day when we know how), but what happens after that is chaotic.

    In other words, order and structure are not present in the absolute sense that the Greeks meant. They are transients.

    I was reading your words with respect, then you said something pretty daft. This is not a matter of belief, nor have I selected any facts, I am including everything. It is what has been observed and calculated by many respected persons with whom I would not wish to argue.

    A word to the religious. None of this reflects on religious belief. Whilst it has been traditional in all religions to deduce that if a god created everything, then he/she/it would also have created order, that is not true. The first part, creation, is reasonable belief, the second part is presumptious. It presumes that mere mortals can deduce the intentions of said god. Those inentions we are assured by religious scholars are not for us to know. So the concept of a chaotic universe is not incompatible with it being divinely created. The big bang was an act of creation. Whether you credit that to divine intervention or not does not change the basic fact, there was a creation, we all agree on that. Belief has nothing at all to do with the forever increasing observations of chaos and it’s effects. Just because things are not as ordered as we thought, that invalidates no fundamental religious belief, but it may invalidate that which was superimposed thereon by those who presume to know the will of their god (isn’t such presumption blasphemy?).

  40. Gaufrid says:

    golgonooza & Derek
    As much as this discussion is interesting, are your comments (#32 & 39) really relevant to this puzzle? If not, please continue your debate on a more suitable forum.

  41. petero says:

    T return to the matter of this crossword – it was Noddy’s car that went parp-parp.

  42. InGrid says:

    I think I recall Ilium and Troy being used to define ancient cities in addition to the rather more readily useful Ur.

    I needed that white flag when it came to cosmos.

  43. golgonooza says:

    Gaufrid: apologies, my response to Derek’s latest post is continued on the general chat messageboard.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

× nine = 45