Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No.908 – Tightens by Warbler

Posted by Mister Sting on April 10th, 2010

Mister Sting.

I am most grateful to Warbler for this delightfully appropriate EV for my debut blog. Not only did it use two of my favourite mechanisms – corrected letters to spell out a message and a hidden grid entry – but the ‘helpful pointer’ of the title (to which I perhaps should have paid more attention at an early stage of solving) chimes most conveniently with my own soubriquet.

I found the clues to be consistent in difficulty and fair in that trickier grid entries were balanced by more accessible cluing. There were some lovely touches – the definitions in 5dn and 24dn were nicely hidden, and there was a tie-in, intentional or otherwise, with Island Records in 18ac. The surface readings were very enjoyable while not relying on tortured wordplay. Perhaps I am a simple soul, but I find a lot of pleasure in a clue such as 10dn.

The grid filled up gradually, so I took the path of least resistance towards the theme. The better half spotted that Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid would fit the letters that we had, which rather strongly hinted at Paul Newman as the ‘artist’. ‘Cool Hand Luke’ is, unfortunately, almost the limit of my Paul Newman knowledge, but this was augmented by a quick (lazy?) imdb search, which brought various potential contenders for the other films. Ultimately they turned out to be ‘(The) Verdict’, ‘Absence (of) Malice’ and ‘Road (to) Perdition’.

The letters PAUL NEWMAN were written diagonally from right to left. And the title’s helpful pointer? ‘Tightens’ is, of course, an anagram of ‘The Sting’.

I have just a few small niggles.
In 12ac, there seems to be a spare ‘I’. Any claimants?
16ac, 21ac I am not wholly convinced by the synonyms flight=fly and being=sense
35ac, I have ou (sing.)/ouens (plu.), rather than ‘ous’, but my Afrikaans is, shall we say, limited.
39ac I would be grateful if someone would confirm my reading.

Thanks to Gaufrid for clearing these up.

XXX* = anagram
{xxx} = anagram indicator
<  = reversal
(x) = unused letter(s)
xxx = excised letter(s)
[bull] = corrected word/letter
ROAD= clue to be highlighted

  1 VAE Very, very Scottish bay (3) Scottish bay (Scots "bay", variant of voe): V (very) + AE (very)
  3 ACCRETION Anorectic, when treated, shows continued growth (9) continued growth: ANORECTIC* {treated}
B 3 MOO Sound from gull [bull]‘s mate is mostly fine in Cape Town (3) sound from bull’s mate: MOO(i) (Afrikaans "nice, pretty")
U 12 TEMPI Note mass and power in mesic [music] rates music rates: TE (note) + M (mass) + P (power) + I (in?)
  14 ROAD Travelling sailor deserts overseas (4) travelling (adj. as in ‘road show’): abROAD (sailor deserts = no ‘ab’) (see 21ac for ‘AB’)
T 15 NEGATE Refuse [refute] dodgy agent introduction to establishment (6) refute: AGENT* {dodgy} + E (‘introduction’ to Establishment)
  16 DUNGFLY Insect plague’s close to grounding flight (7, hyphenated) insect: DUN (plague, harrass for repayment) + G (‘close’ to groundinG) + FLY (flight)
  17 AULIC When dancing Lucia is courtly (5) courtly: LUCIA* {dancing}
C 18 INDIES Diss [disc] companies from island group lacking women (6) disc companies: [W.] Indies (island group)
  21 ABSENCE Inattention of sailor is being reported (7) inattention: AB (sailor – ‘able seaman’) + SENCE (homophone of ‘sense’ = being) ? ABS (sailor is) + ENS (homophone of ‘ens’ = being)
H 23 CWM Welsh follow [hollow] finalists in Cymric snow slalom (3) Welsh hollow (Welsh "valley"): ‘finalists’ in cymriC snoW slaloM
C 25 TEN The one regularly playing hard [card] (3) playing card: ThEoNe (‘regular’ = 1st, 3rd, etc.)
A 26 ITERATE I treat European badly and repent [repeat] (7) repeat: [I TREAT + E (European)]* {badly}
  32 OVIBOS Musk ox may be obvious but not universal (6) musk ox: OBVIOuS* (not universal = no ‘u’) {may be}
S 34 COMMA Infect [insect] mark amid tuft of hairs (5) insect (a butterfly): M (mark) in COMA (tuft of hairs)
  35 ONEROUS Oppressive Afrikaner men seize emperor (7) oppressive: OUS (Afrikaans, "men") including (‘seize’) NERO (emperor)
S 37 TRAGIC Parts of ear start to crinkle. That’s bad [sad]. (6) sad: TRAGI (plural of tragus = part of ear) + C (‘start’ to Crinkle)
  39 LUKE Locally half-hearted evangelist (4) evangelist: a local variant of lukewarm = half-hearted
I 40 UNLIT Dam [dim] lake in university town originally (5) dim: L (lake) in UNI (university) + T (Town ‘originally’)
D 41 STY Old larder [ladder] is smelly after removal of dark liquid (3) old ladder (old variant of ‘style’): ST(ink)Y
Y 42 PERDITION Intrepid leader of old ruined misers [misery] after death (9) misery after death: [INTREPID + O ('leader' of Old)]* {ruined}
  43 ITS It is computer technology and a bit of science (3) It is: IT (computer technology) + S (a bit of Science)
  1 VERDICT Decision that’s very direct or could be (7) decision: V (very) + DIRECT* {could be}
S 2 AMOUNT Australian horse is a total bum [sum] (6) total sum: A (Australian) + MOUNT (horse)
  4 CONFEST Admitted prisoner to party (7) admitted (confessed): CON (prisoner) + FEST (party, often in combination)
  5 COOL In depression nothing is excellent (4) excellent: O (nothing) in COL (depression)
U 6 RUNYON Is [US] author’s journey over there? (6) US author: RUN (journey) YON (over there)
  7 TEG Acquire climbing sheep (3) (a two-year-old) sheep: < GET (acquire ‘climbing’)
N 8 OPTIC Choose current carbon alcohol disperser [dispenser] (5) alcohol dispenser: OPT (choose) + I (current) + C (carbon)
D 9 NIECE Sister’s laughter [daughter] is near unused church (5) sister’s daughter: NIE (obsolete = ‘unused’ variant of ‘nigh’) + CE (Church of England)
  10 HAND Round of applause as Chinese start to dance (4) round of applause: HAN (Chinese) + D (‘start’ to Dance)
  12 TEAL Colour is drastically altered after communist’s defection (4) colour: ALTEred* (communist’s defection = no ‘red’) {drastically}
  13 MALICE Exclaim wildly. Not without spite. (6) spite: ExCLAIM* (not without = no ‘x’) {wildly}
A 19 IBID I put in an offer in some [same] place (4) in same place: I BID (I put in an offer)
  20 YETI Without a smidgin of doubt deity transmuted mythical being (4) mythical being: dEITY* (without a smidgeon of Doubt = no ‘d’) {transmuted}
N 21 ANIMAL Bird sickness is a fag [nag] for example (6) a nag for example (slang for horse): ANI (bird) + MAL (sickness)
C 22 CAVETTO In Edinburgh call experienced soldier to see furling [curling] architectural feature (7) curling architectural feature: CA (Scots = In Edinburgh "call") + VET (experienced soldier) + TO
E 24 MUSSELS Food from spa [sea], in smaller quantity, turning up in museum (7) food from sea: < LESS (smaller quantity, ‘turning up’) in MUS (museum)
K 27 EXOCET Officer commanding in East Texas dressed in rochet [rocket] (6) rocket: OC (officer commanding) in [E (east) TX (Texas)]* {dressed}
  28 POUKIT Jock’s pinched out tips of kale in paddock in a random way (6) Jock’s pinched (Scots = Jock’s "plucked, tugged"): [OUT + K I P ('tips' of Kale In Paddock)]* {in a random way}
  29 ACT UP Losing altitude catapult’s designed to malfunction (5, two words) malfunction: CaTAPUlt* (losing altitude = no ‘alt’) {designed}
  30 BORNE Supported borough with new energy (5) supported: BOR (borough) + N (new) + E (energy)
  31 WAIT Watch leader of army involved in intelligence (4) watch: A (‘leader’ of Army) in WIT (intelligence)
I 33 BOUT Ian’s kitchen houses zero fat [fit] (4) fit: BUT (Scots = Ian’s "kitchen" including (‘houses’) O (zero)
  36 NISI Condition that’s somewhat patronising (4) condition (as in ‘a degree nisi’): patroNISIng
D 38 GID Upsetting taunt brings misease [disease] (3) disease (of sheep and cattle): < DIG (‘upsetting’ taunt)

2 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No.908 – Tightens by Warbler”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Mister Sting
    Good first blog! Regarding your queries, i=in can be confirmed in Chambers which also gives the plural of ou as ous or ouens. The same source gives luke as a dialect version of lukewarm and flight as one of the definitions of fly (noun).

    For 21ac I had AB (sailor) S (is) ENCE homophone of ‘ens’ (being). I am not too happy with the homophone but it makes more sense to me than being=sense.

  2. Mister Sting says:

    Ah! Thank you, Mister G.
    The perils of being sans Chambers!

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