Posted by petebiddlecombe on April 9th, 2010
One of those grids that tells you there must be a theme – more black squares round the edge than usual, and a pair of black zigzags in the middle.
It took a while to twig what was going on after solving – the perimeter unches don’t spell out a message, and at 25 down, my initial thought was “eras? – but the thematic elements are fonts”. It was only when checking the fonts for this report and realising there were more than I thought, that I remembered that Eras is a font. As there are hundreds of fonts around, it’s not difficult for a setter to put a good collection into a puzzle, but Merlin took a more difficult option. If you’ve got the latest edition of Chambers, the first page for each letter of the alphabet has an alphabet in a font whose name begins with that letter of the alphabet. All the fonts included by Merlin have one of these names.
A moderately difficult puzzle which you could probably solve without spotting the theme at all, though you’d feel from the 25D clue that you were missing something.
Later note: there’s potentially more theme content – althought they’re not among the Chambers illustrated fonts, Google searches found me fonts called Afghan, Capital, Garbo, Grendel, and Lipstick. Including the ones where the names differ from dictionary entries by a single letter, that’s a total of 16.
|8||A,F(G,H)AN – afghan being a type of heroin in the drug-crazed world of crossword setters|
|10||ROLLS – 2 defs|
|11||HELVE = handle, TIC(k) – Merlin is also strict enough to insist on grid entries that are words in the dictionary, so this as close as we can get to Helvetica|
|12||Y=yards,EARL=one highly bred,IN,G=acceleration – Yearling is our next font|
|14||LYDIAN = (lady in)* and another font|
|15||BASKERVILLE = (several bilk)* – Conan Doyle murder victim and font – which has an entry in Chambers. It’s frankly ludicrous that Arial, Courier and Helvetica don’t.|
|20||QUORUM – hidden word and font|
|22||OPTIONAL – made by removing “era”=”one of 25″ from OPERATIONAL|
|24||UNIVERSE = (in revues)* and one letter away from another font – Univers|
|26||ROT = bull, IS – rotis are Indian breads and Rotis is another font|
|27||JENSON = SO in JENN(y) and another font|
|1||CO., URI (Geller) = bender,ER = ‘little hesitation’ – another font, of course. Though one of the first things I do with any Windows application using a monospaced font is to replace Courier with the much clearer Lucida Console, which resembles a typewriter’s letters only as much as it needs to.|
|2||MIL(L)ER – we’ve had nothing else starting with M yet, so no surprise that it’s another font|
|3||LIPSTICK – dipstick = fool, with L = a pound replacing d=an old penny.|
|4||M,ESH = (he’s)*|
|5||HALLAL = reversal of L,Allah|
|6||C(A PIT)AL – not a font, but font-related|
|9||GRENDEL – REND = tear in rev. of LEG=limb|
|13||GARB=costume,O=Oscar (radio alphabet) – there is no Garbo (or Grendel) font listed in Chambers.|
|16||ARRIVES = (raver is)*|
|17||INTER (Milan) = ‘Italian team’,V.= versus = against,A(rsena)L – not a font, the I one being ‘Isbell’|
|23||OPT,1,M.A. – another font|
|25||ERAS = times – our final font, with a clue that should help you to see what’s going on.|