Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,098 / Puck

Posted by Eileen on August 25th, 2010

Eileen.

There’s much to admire in this characteristically Puckish puzzle, which I found great fun and very enjoyable – a nice variety of clue types and some excellent surfaces: it would have been sycophantic to highlight them all! Many thanks, Puck.

There’s more than a whiff of déjà vu for those who did the Indy puzzle yesterday: the theme is Beatles albums * and I hope I’ve spotted them all. [I was very relieved that I actually recognised the theme - I don't always, with Puck!]

Across

7   COJONES: anagram of OJ ONCE + S[mall]
8   GET EVEN: anagram of [extrac]T [r]EVENGE;; super surface!
9   ODES: Odessa minus sa[sex appeal]: ‘The Odessa File’ is a thriller by Frederick Forsyth, filmed in 1974.
10  ORANGE PIP: anagram of  GRAPE + PINO[t]
12 ALBUM: mostly ALBUM[en] : ‘ab ovo’, meaning from the beginning, literally = ‘from the egg’. I liked this one.
13  SPARROWS: PAR [standard] + R[ecipe] in SOW [pig out] + S[econds]: another amusing surface, with its reference to Birds’ custard – so preferable to the obvious charade-type clues that could have been used here.
15  EBAY: hidden reversal in plaY A BEatles – I think!
16  RHETT: anagram of HER TT [times]: Rhett Butler is Clark Gable’s character in ‘Gone with the Wind': another nice surface
19  CHIT: C[hart] + HIT [success] – with a nod to the theme
18  BYGRAVES: BY GRAVES [where flowers are put] with further wordplay in BY [next to] GRAVES [wine]. Max  Bygraves, the English comedian, singer, actor and variety performer.
20 RILKE: alternate letters of O’REILLY KNEW: Rainer Maria Rilke ( 1875 – 1926) was a Bohemian–Austrian poet and art critic.
21  METAL COMB: TA [soldiers in MEL C [Spice Girl] + O [ring] + MB [doctor] : ‘shock’ meaning hair – another amusing surface.
22  SOUL: SO [primarily S[uggesting] O[ne] + [pa]UL [setter has no PA {old man}]. I loved this one, once I got it – which took a time! Yesterday,  Paul had setter Shed as one of his answers and here he gets his turn. It’s perhaps surprising that the reference was not to Macca.
24  BEATLES: BE AT [attend] + anagram of LSE
25  *LET IT BE: anagram of BELT and TIE: another great surface.

Down

2   POSSIBLY: SIB [brother or sister] + L[eft]  in POSY [some flowers]
3   REFORM: RE-FORM
4 *SERGEANT… : anagram of AGREES + N[o]T
5   *… PEPPER: double definition: Art Pepper, American alto saxophonist and the varieties of capsicum
6   *HELP: double definition
11  ANSWERS TO: anagram of WASTER SON:
12,1 *ABBEY ROAD: anagram of EBAY + BOARD
14  WHITE: anagram of THE + WI [West Indies opener - I think the singular is OK here, as WI is a recognised abbreviation]: reference to the white ball in snooker, I presume – and what a superb surface!
16  * REVOLVER: double definition
17 CALFSKIN: anagram of F[ine] + SILK CAN
19  ROTATE: hidden reversal in pET ATORtoise
20  RUBBER: RUGGER [a sport informally] with the two central letters changed.
21  MEET: double definition – but there’s more: ‘Come together’ is the opening track on the ‘Abbey Road’ album and so ‘fitting’ for this puzzle. What an excellent clue for such a little word!
23  UMBO: UM [I'm not sure] + BO [smell]: an umbo is a shield boss.  A hilarious clue to end with.

Other featured albums are RUBBER SOUL and [The] WHITE ALBUM

75 Responses to “Guardian 25,098 / Puck”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen – this was good fun, as you say. I believe you missed highlighting the 14dn 12ac ;)

  2. Eileen says:

    It’s at the bottom of the blog, Andrew!

  3. Andrew says:

    Oops, I’ll get my coat!

  4. otter says:

    Morning, Eileen, and thanks for the blog. This one had me initially stumped, until I found a way in via 19d and worked my way slowly around. It was lots of fun, with a few slip-ups and hesitations on my part. I’m not very familiar with Puck, so took me a while to get into the clueing style.

    Enjoyed the theme, even though I am no fan of the 24a. Lucky for me when I got 6d then 16d I realised they were both Beatles albums, although it didn’t occur to me straight away to look for a theme – only when I later looked at 24a again and realised what was going on.

    I still don’t really understand what’s going on in 8a – what indicates that the initial R of revenge should be removed? Is it also the ‘ultimately’, and is that why the clue is ‘cruelly executed’ (i.e. a bit of a stinker)? Or am I missing something else?

    Agree with your analysis of 15 as a reversed hidden answer.

    I realised there was an extra cryptic meaning in 18a, but couldn’t get graves = wine, so thanks for pointing that out.

    Last to go in was 23d, a word which I’ve never encountered, just put it in from the cryptic clues.

    A really enjoyable puzzle; will try to remember to look out for Puck puzzles in future. Thanks for the blog.

  5. Andrew says:

    In 8ac REVENGE is “executed” = beheaded.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi otter

    8ac: T is ‘ultimately extract’, then ‘revenge’ has its head off: ‘cruelly’ is the anagram indicator.

  7. Brian (with an eye) says:

    Thanks, Eileen, I don’t think I’d ever have worked out why 22a. Did anyone else get misled by the theme into having GET BACK for 8a? Just me then. And, by the way, 2d should include L[eft] after SIB.

  8. Eileen says:

    Thanks Brian [sic] – corrected now.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for a superb blog and thanks Puck for a really good puzzle

    I was unfortunate to be born slightly too early to fully savour the 1960s. I had to make do with ‘pop music’ with titles like Cement Mixer and Pedro the Fisherman, and was rescued only by the coming of ‘folk music’ with Burl Ives, and Josh White etc. I later came to realise that they were quite revolutionary in their poetry and music, but it was sadly a bit too late for me.

    This made the puzzle slightly harder for me but I was pleased to get the theme and solve all the theme clues. I had to check afterwardss which were albums.

    I fell down on two other clues. I got ‘soul’ but needed Eileen’s clever parsing to understand it. I daren’t say what my mind did with what I wrongly took to be the missing ‘rubber’ (it was of course in 20d as Eileen notes and I saw later).

    To my chagrin, I got 21 across wrong entering ‘metal bomb’. I had initially got rugger instead of rubber and then went too swiftly for Mel B! A very nice clue with a neat trap I fell straight into.

    I liked 8a, 12a, 16a, and 17d particularly.

  10. tupu says:

    Ps
    Thanks Eileen too re 15a. The answer was obvious but I didn’t see why.

    Overall a salutary experience – I felt fairly chuffed yesterday to get everything right and fully understand why.

  11. jmac says:

    Thanks Eileen for a super blog. I would never have understood SOUL in a million years otherwise. It was a very entertaining puzzle, made reasonably easy to solve once the theme emerged. As you say, a nice variety of clues. Thought GET EVEN was wonderful – a sort of &lit anagram; and EBAY was really clever – luckily easily solvable in the first instance from the crossing letters.

  12. sidey says:

    Is it some sort of anniversary? There was a similar theme in yesterday(!)’s Indie. That made this a tad easier than it could have been. Nice puzzle.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen, and for the parsing of SOUL which I couldn’t see. I really enjoyed this! Lots of smiles.

    I was lucky with this puzzle overall — my first was LET IT BE, which alerted me to the theme — I was a little too alert, as I spent some time trying to convince myself that 21dn was HELP before I found where it should go!

  14. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen, and to Puck, too. Tough, but doable without aids (except to check on line that there was such a “15 board game”). Having got the theme, it was straightforward to fit in the albums, and that was a big 6d in getting the otherwise fiendish 22a. Apart from the cheeky 7a, the NW corner was tricky but satisfying as each penny dropped. Like tupu @ 21a I bombed out on 21a, and Otter @ 4 wondered how in 8a the R in revenge disappeared.

  15. Roger says:

    Hi Sidney,
    According to our old friend Wikipedia, the four lads finally became “The Beatles” in August 1960 ~ so maybe it is that 50-year anniversary being celebrated here.

  16. Roger says:

    … or indeed sidey, sorry.

  17. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen, and a very enjoyable thanks to Puck – one of the better solves for some considerable time.

    I got a little distracted at top right, because I put at 13a SWALLOWS at first (pigs WALLOW), but on reflection it didn’t use all of the clue.

  18. Stella says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I actually managed to parse most of this, including 22a, and was reminded, like you, of yesterday’s Shed; but I didn’t see the explanation for 9a, thinking it was some kind of beheaded computer technology.

    It seems the Fab Four are joined by one or two more or less contemporary entertainments.

    My first word in was the first one I looked at – 7a, which is a word I wouldn’t normally use! :)

  19. rob-inwolves says:

    Very enjoyable xword and blog, thank you.

    Very slight quibble with reaoning on 12a.

    albumen is white from an egg so the ab ovo is literal rather than meaning from the start.

  20. Martin H says:

    I read 8a as &lit: definition: ‘Ultimately extract revenge’, ‘ultimately’ also serving to isolate the T of ‘extract'; (t revenge) anagram indicated by ‘executed (ie performed, put into action) cruelly’.

  21. Eileen says:

    Sorry, rob-inwolves, I misled you: what I meant was that it’s usually used to mean ‘from the beginning’ but here it’s used literally.

    From Wikipedia: The English literary use of the phrase comes from Horace’s Ars Poetica, where he describes his ideal epic poet as one who “does not begin the Trojan War from the double egg – the twin eggs of Leda and Zeus disguised as a swan from which Helen was born. Had Leda not laid the egg, Helen would not have been born, so Paris could not have eloped with her, so there would have been no Trojan War etc.” (nec gemino bellum Troianum orditur ab ouo), the absolute beginning of events, the earliest possible chronological point, but snatches the listener into the middle of things (in medias res).

  22. Eileen says:

    I’m sorry again: in my rush to get out to the dentist’s, I edited the Wiki entry too hastily and messed up the quotatin marks.

    Martin H, I agree.

  23. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Great blog, Eileen, of a fine crossword.
    A blog that I needed to understand why I put in ODES at 9ac, and RUBBER SOUL somewhere in the SW.

    The only one I still don’t understand [despite your explanation] is WHITE (14d).
    If what you’re saying is right, then ‘Ball’ must be the anagrind, doing double duty?
    Subsequently, I am not convinced by ‘opener’ where it should have been ‘openers’, in my opinion. Which leaves us with ‘for six’??
    I was initially thinking of W [West-Indies' opener] + HIT + well, an E [for what??].

    If your reading is the right one:
    – I dislike the word ‘hit’ in the clue [also substantial part of the solution]
    – I don’t understand ‘… for six’.

    Anyone?

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil – in great haste: the anagram indicator is ‘hit for six’!

  25. Val says:

    Thanks, Eileen, for a fine blog as always.

    I still don’t see how you get 16d. I can see the one definition, “gun”, but the other? 6d!

    Sil, I read 14d as ‘ball’ = definition, ‘the’ and ‘WI’ = fodder and ‘hit for six’ = anagrind.

  26. Val says:

    Ah, my haste wasn’t as hasty as Eileen’s great one :-)
    Excuse my overlapping answer.

  27. liz says:

    Val — re 16d a ‘top’ is also a revolver — ie it rotates :-)

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Ah, of course – thanks Eileen & Val.

    In the meantime, I do understand the singular ‘opener’ now, too.
    As it is: W [West] + I [Indies' opener].

  29. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hard grind for the class dummy, with lot’s of gadget use, despite the having got the theme straight off, which is unusual for me, I frequently miss them entirely. (Damn, ran out of phrases to keep the sentence going!)

    Isn’t Ball=White a reference to what they use in cricket nowadays for day/night matches? Makes more sense than snooker.

  30. Val says:

    Thanks, Liz! Now I’m amazed I missed that.

  31. brr says:

    Not sure if it’s part of the the theme for 21d or not, but “Meet the Beatles” was also a US album release.

  32. Andrew says:

    The word COJONES is Spanish and vulgar. Can anybody tell me the definition of what is allowed as a solution?

  33. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil #28

    Thanks for that – of course you’re right. I hadn’t really been happy with my explanation.

    And thanks, too, brr – I didn’t know that.

  34. Koran says:

    Thanks Eileen for the explanations. I finished the grid and found it most enjoyable but I am/was a Beatles fan. Several clues though I couldn’t explain even though I knew they were correct. Ebay (which was nice), Oddessa (shame on me) and Revolver (obvious when pointed out but great misdirection).

    I agree with ‘White’ coming from The + W for West + I for Indies opener but, as you say Eileen, WI is standard for West Indies so the word ‘opener’ was unnecessary.

  35. Gaufrid says:

    Andrew @32
    For future comments please add something to your name to differentiate yourself from the blogger Andrew.

    7ac is of Spanish origin but neither Chambers (slang, chiefly US) nor COED (informal, chiefly N. Amer.) class it as vulgar.

  36. Andrew K says:

    Gaufrid,

    Thank you for your explanation. My first post so getting up to speed.

    Andrew K

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #35, …. but Wikipedia does:
    “Cojones (Spanish pronunciation: [ko?xones]) is a vulgar Spanish word for testicles, denoting courage; it is considered a curse word in Spanish. In English, as a loanword, it similarly means courage or brazenness”

  38. Ross Taylor says:

    While I agree with most of Eileen’s explanation of 22a, isn’t the O in is meant to be zero or “no”. So S(uggesting) 0 PA (no old man)?

  39. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Sil
    We are solving a puzzle in English, not Spanish, so I don’t think that the Spanish meaning or usage is relevant.

    UK puzzles are governed by English dictionaries, not Wikipedia, and these give “testicles, balls, courage, spirit, guts etc” and no indication that the word is anything other than informal or slang.

  40. Eileen says:

    Hi Ross

    I don’t understand: the word ‘no’ is in the clue as part of the wordplay and so we don’t need a ‘zero': the second part of the clue is: “‘setter’s’ = ‘Paul’s’ = ‘Paul has’ no old man”, ie, take PA from PAUL.

    Welcome, Andrew K: I hope we hear from you again. I thought I’d got away with not commenting on 7ac! – I’d never heard of it before! :-)

  41. Garry says:

    Thank Eileen. I only had the V from Bygraves in 16d and entered Maverick (from the film Top Gun – I wonder whether that was intentional as a possible decoy)so that did for me really have completed 3/4 including most of the Beatles titles. I was so frustrated that I didn’t even spot the theme! Doh! And could I work out how to fit in the Spice Girl in Metal Bomb? Nopey no – even though my thought processes were more or less in the right area!

  42. tupu says:

    Hi Andrew K, Gaufrid etc.

    I always associated the word ‘cojones’ with Ernest Hemingway and a quick check suggests I have been right to do so. See
    http://www.slate.com/id/2262667
    The word is said to have been introduced into English-language literature in his Death in the Afternoon (1932) as Spanish for ‘courage’.

  43. Andrew K says:

    Hi Gaufrid,

    You are of course right that English is the reference language and certain dictionaries (Chambers, COED?) define that term. But are words listed as vulgar allowed even in the clue? My Chambers isn’t to hand but the online version of the Oxford Dictionary has the clue definition “balls”, in the sense that gives the solution, as ‘vulgar slang’. Not a moral issue. Just want to know the rules.

  44. tupu says:

    Hi Gerry (and Eileen en passant)
    I am glad to see that I may not have been alone in thinking 21 across was ‘metal bomb’. But Eileen must surely be right, mustn’t she, that Mel C rather than Mel B was intended even though ‘shock waves’ are associated with bombs.

  45. tupu says:

    Hi Andrew K
    Sorry, we overlapped on 42 and 43.

  46. Stella says:

    Hi Sil

    As I said earlier (@18), ‘cojones’ is not a word I would use, but it is very common in Spain in its figurative sense of ‘courage’, and in a wide variety of expressions.

    I’ve lately come across its use in English, mainly in American cops series, where they will say things like “He hasn’t got the cojones” rather than “He hasn’t got the balls”. It’s no more vulgar in Spanish than in English.

    This reminds me of a graffito my brother once found in the men’s – a picture of two cubes with the title “Balls to Picasso!”

  47. Garry says:

    tupu @ 42, yes Eileen’s perfectly correct that it’s metal comb. Sorry, I meant to refer back to your earlier post in my meandering!

  48. tupu says:

    Ps to 42
    OED confirms this for 1932. Some later quotations (e.g. Capote 1966) use the word to mean testicles but the Guardian that year also used it for ‘nerve’ or ‘courage’. Of course ‘balls’ in either sense tends to be used in the plural (except in the old wartime song ascribing only one to Hess!) but one never sees the singular ‘cojone’ used in English.

  49. Gaufrid says:

    Andrew K
    Chambers also has ‘vulgar slang’ for the plural of ball but only for certain meanings of the word. When it is being used in the sense of courage or guts it is simply labelled ‘slang’.

    As to your question regarding rules, except for the Times which has strict guidelines, I would suggest that it is whatever the setter can get past the crossword editor. 7ac wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow had it been in a puzzle set by Cyclops for Private Eye but I doubt that it would be acceptable in say the Church Times.

  50. KB Pike says:

    Andrew re Nr 32
    I suggest a response from the Guardian’s Crossword Editor is called for. One readily associates The Guardian with a brash, see-how-bold-we-can-be, style, but I for one regret its intrusion into our daily entertainment. The Spanish word “cojones” (= testicles) is commonly known to us Brits through its vulgar usage. I suggest it has no place in such a civilised pursuit as our daily x-word. No doubt Puck thinks he can get away with this and other such words – the Guardian certainly leads the field in vulgarity/smut – with such a waggish pseudonym, but here we must surely rely on the good taste and discretion of the X-word Editor. “Do they exist” I hear you ask. May we know?

    Some criteria for banned lights would be helpful.

    PS I remember, years ago, submitting a crossword including the word “tenesmus” – I’m pretty certain the word was forced upon me: I could find no substitute for the letter sequence. The X-Word Ed was a lady in those days: she left me in no doubt that an alternative WOULD be found!

    Puck’s choice of word is the first across light, so there can be no suggestion that he had no available alternatives for -o-o-e-.

  51. Tuck says:

    KB Pike

    Tenesmus is no more vulgar than cojones, the latter meaning courage in the same way as balls is used – which I recently heard on the Today Programme on Radio 4. I would suggest that the editor you submitted the puzzle to was the one with the problem, as the word you submitted refers to a bodily function (or lack of it), which I’m sure any self respecting GP would be happy to declare out loud so as to explain to a patient that they were suffering from a recognised medical condition.

  52. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    Great puzzle from Puck, really enjoyed it. Also being an old (yes old) Beatles fan, I could guess a lot of the answers without properly understanding the clues although I did subsequently work all of them out apart from SOUL and ODES. I must commend you for managing to interpret these correctly.

    Loads of good clues here and I did like RHETT although I wasn’t convinced by the definition part of METAL COMB.

  53. tupu says:

    Hi KB
    :) Nice one! As McEnroe used to say…. (3,6,3,2,7).

  54. tupu says:

    Hi KB
    Sorry that should of course have been (3,6,2,7)!

  55. Gerry says:

    I took a while to complete even after spotting the theme, and am glad for the explanation for 9ac.

  56. KB Pike says:

    Re tuck/51 – You miss my point. I’d rather hear from puck;
    re tupu/53 – Oh but I can! Btw what does the second 3 stand for?

  57. tupu says:

    Hi KB
    Thanks. As noted and apologised for in 54, it should not be there.

  58. rrc says:

    By graves was my last one in and caused a smile, which really was a good job, because i was about to comment that I found thus on the tedious side mainly as a result of the 4 letter answers. Being conscious that there were a number of Beatles related answers as I was working through didnt register as a theme. I forgot about Pucks themes

  59. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    Nothing much to add,except to say – what a super puzzle!
    57 comments so far and nearly all of them complimentary,Puck must be doing something right.
    I was another who entered METAL BOMB and even tried Google as it was an unfamiliar phrase to me.Only when that failed to come up with any relevant hits did I remember that there were two Mels in the Spice Girls.
    Too many excellent clues to list favourites.

  60. Andrew K says:

    Hi Gaufrid re 49 – The online Oxford Dictionary has all meanings of balls as vulgar slang. See:http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0058050#m_en_gb0058050

    In any case it is interesting to know there are no clear rules. In the quick crossword balls/cojones would have been a difficult clue but in the cryptic I guess everybody gets there via the rest of the information provided. Thanks for the clarification.

  61. G&D says:

    Deja vu for us. An happenstance at a presentation today when asked ‘What English team came together to produce a winner in 1966?’ The answer was The Beatles with Revolver and not the national football squad!

    A lovely puzzle and no political comment from us – for once!

  62. easy peasy not says:

    Some stuffy comments re cojones. It was used in the House of Commons by William Hague a few months ago. So it has some currency – not sure what Hansard did with it.

  63. Sylvia says:

    Did anyone else try to fit in ‘Penny Lane’ at 12/1?

  64. Alan Goddard says:

    Eileen can you please explain what the term surface means in your excellent blog. I kind of feel that I might be the only one who doesn’t know

  65. Eileen says:

    Hi Alan

    The surface reading is the literal meaning of the clue
    [disregarding the cryptic element], which should always make sense in its own right.

    See http://bestforpuzzles.com/cryptic-crossword-tutorial/surface-meaning.html

  66. Dynamic says:

    As Eileen hasn’t responded, Alan…

    “Surface” is the shorthand for “surface reading” often used here and in other crosswrod blogs (like bigdave’s Telegraph blog).

    It refers to the way a clue appears to be when read as a normal English sentence.

    If it sounds like natural English, especially taking the reader in a completely different direction to the solution, and the cryptic elements and definition all work, it’s said to have a “lovely surface reading”, or for brevity a “lovely surface”.

  67. Dynamic says:

    D’oh, too late!

  68. Martin H says:

    I see now, as others must already have, that my parsing of 8a (at 20) is incomplete, not accounting for the lost R of revenge. Here goes, then: just as ‘ultimately extract’ works as both part of the definition and an indicator for T, so ‘executes cruelly’ must play a double role in beheading ‘revenge’ and indicating the anagram. Very neat. Do I like it? Not sure.

  69. Val says:

    Anyone else have to look up tenesmus?

    easy peasy not @62, I can find no record of Hague having used “cojones” (the word, not commenting on his courage or otherwise) in debate this parliamentary session. You wouldn’t know the date? Or the context?

  70. Eileen says:

    Hi Val

    In case easy peasy does not see your comment at this late stage [and apologies to easy peasy for jumping in, if you do] if you google ‘Hague, cojones’, you’ll find various references. I expect this is one of the more amusing:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/06/eu.foreignpolicy

  71. Val says:

    So not “a few months ago” then! No wonder I didn’t find it. Thanks, Eileen.

    Here, for those who are still following this, is the Hansard report:-

    “(Nick Clegg) said:

    ‘Nothing will do more damage to the pro-European movement than giving room to the suspicion that we have something to hide, that we do not have the ‘cojones’ to carry our argument to the people.’

    “An explanation of why the Liberal Democrat leadership’s protests in the debates have become ever more shrill is that, at some point in recent months, they have become separated from their cojones. Those unfortunate objects are now to be found impaled on a distant fence.”

    So, yes, Hansard does use the word as is and no one got thrown out for unparliamentary language. And that was way back when they weren’t all in government together.

  72. Tuck says:

    And given that Nick Clegg has a Spanish wife and speaks fluent Spanish, he can hardly claim not to know the translated “vulgar” meaning!

  73. easy peasy not says:

    Val – mea maxima culpa for getting the date way out of kilter. But thanks for getting the reference from Hansard out. For any sad souls still on this thread, the first para of the Hansard quote is of course Hague quoting Clegg and the next para Hague.

    And Eileen there is no problem in your jumping in with more detail. I was inconvenienced today with the bane of my life, namely work.

  74. Huw Powell says:

    Lots of fun, so much so that even with a few missing (that I never would have worked out) I came to find out the clues I didn’t fully understand. So thanks for the explanation of WHITE (which had to go in once I nailed ALBUM) and SOUL (ditto after RUBBER), and probably two or three others.

    I was lucky in having GET EVEN penciled in before really getting that the theme was strong not weak, I probably would have spent hours trying to make GET BACK fit the rest of the clue.

    brr @ 31, nice find re: MEET. I doubt it was intentional, but still…

    Early on I had LET IT BE and that along with the clue at 21d made me think “hmmm, maybe a mini theme or something”, then as time went by I noticed I had Officer Spice in the NE corner and then finally 24a clicked.

    I never got closer than METAL BOMB (??) for 21a, but it simply didn’t fit the clue properly – a metal bomb (one) simply can’t “go into shock”.

    Last comment: the puzzle as a whole is a title as well, albeit only an EP in the UK: Magical Mystery Tour.

    Thanks for the explanations, Eileen and others, to Puck for a fiendish but fair romp.

  75. Huw Powell says:

    Sylvia @ 63, no, but nice idea for a mistake. Of course, Penny Lane isn’t an LP – and I think it’s in Liverpool, not London.

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