Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,767 (Sat 1 Aug)/Shed – Phoenician blind

Posted by rightback on August 8th, 2009


Solving time: 12:05

The seven answers clued without definition were all types of film: biopic, blaxploitation, horror, blue, western, feature and noir. Once this was cracked I thought this puzzle was probably on the easier side for a Saturday, although a few answers held me up at the end: the cross-referenced PHOENICIAN and GUERNSEY, and finally GLYPTODON.

Music of the day: Not being much of a film buff, I invite your suggestions for the best film soundtracks or songs ever, and look forward to listening to some of them when I get back from an attempt on the Bob Graham Round this weekend.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

* 1 BIOPIC; OP 1 (= ‘First composition’) in BIC – I was held up here by looking for an anagram of ‘in biro’, even with all three checking letters.
4 SCALAWAG; [La] SCALA + WAG – not a spelling I’ve seen before.
10 GUERNSEY; GUY around (ERNE around S[outh]) – difficult, with ‘South Island’ looking likely to give ‘SI’ in the wordplay. I actually solved this ‘backwards’, by looking at the clue for 18ac which includes the phrase ’10 etc’, from which I guessed that this answer must be an island and, moreover, since the group of islands to which this belonged had to give an element of 18ac’s wordplay, the Channel Islands (= CI) were strong candidates.
13 DRESS SHIRT; (THIRD)* around (RE + S,S,S)
14 ENID; rev. of DINE – the ‘to’ in this clue is a bit unfair.
16 S + OFT
18 PHOENICIAN; PAN around (HOE, + rev. of IN, + C.I.) – a very difficult wordplay, especially with the cross-reference to 10ac. I eventually dredged up the answer from faint Biblical knowledge, perhaps subliminally assisted by ‘hoe’, although I’d expected the garden implement to be backwards; I don’t really like ‘back in’ for ‘in backwards’ unless (possibly) ‘back’ can be read as an imperative, which it can’t in this clue.
* 21 BLAXPLOITATION; (IBO + ANTI-POLL TAX)* – a new word to me. This is a pretty good anagram, and perhaps intended as a sort of &lit?
23 A[nti]QUARIAN – slightly dubious wordplay (‘…dropping bits of tin…’), which is no excuse for my putting in ‘Aquarius’ at first without checking it.
24 VOODOO; OO after OO in V.D. – nearly rushed into ‘hoodoo’ here.
25 D-WELLERS – Sam Weller and his father Tony are both characters in The Pickwick Papers.
* 26 HORROR; [t]HOR + R + OR – isn’t it about time ‘take’ = ‘recipe’ = R was retired?
* 1 BLUE; even letters of BULK USER [edit – actually the even letters are removed. Sorry for the mistake and thanks to Shed for dropping by to point this out.]
2 OBTRUDE; B.T. in (O + RUDE) – ISP (Internet Service Provider) is fine for B[ritish] T[elecom], unlike ‘server’ for AOL which I saw somewhere this week.
6 LARYNX; (A + R) in LYNX – spent too long on ‘lion’ here.
* 7 WE + STERN
8 GLYPTODON; [u]GLY + P.T.O. + DON – I took a minute or two on this at the end, even though only the fourth letter was really in doubt; I just couldn’t see ‘see other side’ = P[lease] T[urn] O[ver]. (being picky, the ‘of’ is questionable). The root of this is glyptos (‘carved’) and odous, odontos (‘tooth’).
13 DASHBOARD; D.D. around (ASH + BOAR)
15 VIRTUOSO; rev. of OUT in (VISOR)* – excellent clue.
* 17 FEAT + URE
20 SPIRAL; rev. of (LA + RIPS)
* 22 NOIR (hidden backwards) – this was obviously both a (reversed) hidden answer and a thematic answer, and since NOIR was the only real possibility this helped to unlock the theme very quickly.

17 Responses to “Guardian 24,767 (Sat 1 Aug)/Shed – Phoenician blind”

  1. Bryan says:

    I really enjoyed this although I had difficulty finishing until I had belatedly worked out the theme of the ‘seven closely related’.

    Consequently, even though I thought that 22d was NOIR I lacked the confidence to enter it despite having BLUE, WESTERN, FEATURE and BLAXPLOITATION.

    Having entered INTRUDE at 2d didn’t help but when I finally twigged BIOPIC everything then fell nicely into place.

    Many thanks Shed for one of the best and many thanks Rightback for your blog.

  2. IanN14 says:

    Thanks rightback,
    Music has to be this

  3. Bryan says:

    For music of the day, how about a real oldie: ‘If I had a talking picture of you’?

  4. Shed says:

    Thanks, Rightback. Re 1dn, it’s BULK USER without the ‘even’ letters, but otherwise spot on and yes, there was meant to be a hint of an &lit in BLAXPLOITATION. Re 26ac., I take your point about ‘recipe’ – though I believe ‘R’ for ‘take’ is still in common usage in the chess world.

    Your solving times are awe-inspiring. It took me longer than that to solve the proof. How long do puzzles take you if you don’t get ‘held up’?

  5. Jake says:

    Fantastic puzzle, lots of penny dropping moments as the clues slotted into place.

    Well in my top 5 puzzles I’d recommend at solving.

    Nice one Shed.

    Cheers Rightback !

  6. Chunter says:


    In chess the notation for a capture is ‘x’. I can’t think of any context in which ‘R’ has been used for that purpose.

    Nice puzzle!

  7. The trafites says:

    12:05 – is that minutes? If so, I find it incredible – it takes me that sort of time to just read through the clues for ideas, let alone solve anything.


  8. liz says:

    Thanks Rightback. And thanks, Shed, for a great puzzle! My way into the theme was WESTERN and I loved 21ac. My musical suggestion would be the theme from Shaft. Here it is played by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

  9. liz says:

    Sorry about that. This time I think I’ve got the right link….

  10. Mr Beaver says:

    I also started the theme with NOIR, then got BLUE from where the film theme strongly suggested itself.

    Rightback – I strongly agree with your suggestion that the obscure derivation of ‘take’ = ‘R’ be dropped! I’d not come across it, and only noticed the ‘missing’ R as I was writing in the answer, but mentally shrugged and moved on…

  11. AndyW says:

    In Chambers dictionary, R = recipe (Latin), take. I don’t know what context it’s used in in real life, but it’s been used in crosswords forever. Just another weird crossword convention to learn, no different to flower = river really.

  12. NeilW says:

    Andy, the R is a pharmaceutical abbreviation. I haven’t practised medicine in the UK for 20 years so I have no idea if it’s still used but it used to be commonly printed on prescription pads; most often we used to write Rx but I guess that would be of limited use in crosswords! It dates back to the time when most prescriptions were indeed recipes for the pharmacist.

  13. Barnaby Page says:

    Loved BLAXPLOITATION – very funny. Though having got BLUE and NOIR first, like other solvers, I was convinced for too long that the theme was colours…

  14. Jake says:

    my music for the day,,,,,,,

  15. Shed says:

    Chunter (#6): you’re quite right – I should have checked my facts before opening my mouth. As I deal with early modern manuscripts in my day job, I do actually come across R for ‘recipe’ quite a lot in Latin alchemical texts (usually with a line like a slash through the right ‘leg’ of the R – similar to NeilW’s ‘Rx’). Here it literally does mean ‘take’, e.g. ‘R[ecipe] 3 unciae mercurii …’, ‘Take 3 ounces of mercury …’. From there, I presume, it passed into pharmaceutical notation, but nowadays I think the only place you ever see it is in crosswords.

  16. rightback says:

    Thanks to all commenters, and to Shed for dropping by – it’s always interesting to hear from setters. Apologies for my error at 1dn, now corrected.

    I’m not sure I agree with AndyW that ‘take’ = R is just like ‘flower’ = ‘river’. Unlike the former, I’d feel I could explain the latter to a beginner without feeling defensive or apologetic! For barred thematic crosswords anything in Chambers is fair game, but for blocked puzzles, even prize ones, I’d be happy to see it dropped, although I’m amused that the setter sees it regularly in his day job!

    Thanks also for the music suggestions – I think I liked the ukeleles the most.

  17. Al Streatfield says:

    Film soundtracks.

    Disappointingly few worthy of mention.

    Best ones: Badlands (directed by Terrence Mallick).
    Music: Excerpts from Carnival of the Animal by Saint-Saens and “Music for Children” by Carl Orff.

    If… (directed by Lindsay Anderson).
    Music: “Sanctus” from the Missa Luba.

    2001: A Space Odyssey (directed by Stanley Kubrick).
    Music: Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss.
    The Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss.
    Also music by Khachachurian and Ligeti.
    Same director’s “The Shining”- music by Krysztof Penderecki.
    Same director’s ” A Clockwork Orange”- music Walter Carlos’s synthesised versions of Beethoven etc…

    Not really a film soundtrack but a film about a band: “Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii”

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