Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25109 – Puck the Magic Dragon

Posted by Uncle Yap on September 7th, 2010

Uncle Yap.

What a delightful puzzle from Puck with a mini-theme of certain Internet-related terms here and there. The devices employed are multi-various and many would raise a snigger or even a guffaw. Most entertaining.

1 WEBPAGE Cha of WE (The Guardian) BP (British Petroleum, a company not exactly the darling of people near the Gulf of Mexico) AGE (time)
5 GOTHIC Cha of GOT (understood) HIC (sounds like HICK, a person from the country; any unsophisticated or unintelligent person)
9 STROLLER Cha of ST (street, road) ROLLER (car, the Rolls Royce)
10 REMAIN *(Armenia minus A, first letter)
12 HOUSEY-HOUSEY *(you + she) x 2 for a game in which numbers are drawn at random and marked off on players’ boards until one is clear (now usu called bingo, lotto, tombola).
15 LOWER HOUSE What a fantastic cd clue alluding to the lowing or mooing of bovine creatures. The elected assembly in the bicameral parliamentary system such as found in the UK
17 URL ha Uniform Resource Locator (the system of addresses for the World Wide Web).
19 CUT = slash Thanks to JS, I now learn HALF-CUT is another slang word for drunk
22 JOHANNESBURG Ins of AN (article) in JOHN (can, loo, toilet) + *(BRUGES)
26 CUDGEL Thanks to NeilW, CUD (bovine food brought back up) + GEL (facetious rendering of an upper-class pronunciation of girl)
27 IGNORANT *(Tr na nOg + I) Either I am missing something or is there a missing I in the anagram fodder? Apparently not, according to JS, the pdf version gave the annie fodder as Tir na nOg ~ roughly meaning “Land of Youth” the most popular of the Otherworlds in Irish mythology.
28 SINGER ha
29 PINBALL Spooner would say BIN (rubbish) PALL sounds like PAUL (setter in the Guardian stable) “Pinball Wizard” is a song written by Pete Townshend and performed by the English rock band The Who, and featured on their 1969 rock opera album Tommy.
1,2 WESTBURY WEST (W) BURY (inter) very clever device
3 ALL FOURS 16 to 5 is 4.44 or ALL FOURS (aka crawling)
4 EXECS *(SEX EC, inner city of London) A SUIT (from requirement to wear suit as office attire) is a business manager or accounts executive (as contrasted with ordinary workers or creative individuals)
6 OBERON Ins of ER (Elizabeth Regina, queen) in O (love) B (Bottom) O N (first letters of Oh not) king of the fairies, husband of Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a comedy by William Shakespeare in which PUCK, our setter’s namesake aka Robin Goodfellow is also a character
7 HEADSQUARE HEAD (someone who takes hallucinogenic drugs ; often in combination as in acid-head) SQUARE (old fashioned) square of material worn as a covering for the head.
8 CANDYFLOSS Another smile-inducing cha of CANDY (name of girl) FLOSS (what the dentist advises)
11 HYSSOP Ins of Y (unknown) in *(posh S)
13 BLACKJACKS Cha of BLACK (ban) JACKS (sailors) US slang for a leather-covered cosh
16 OILMEN Cha of OIL (crude) ME (Puck) N (first letter of NOT) Very cute definition, well-connected people
18 FOUR DOWN *(row found)
21 SNEEZE S (Sunday) NEEZE (sounds like knees, joint’s)
23 BIG UP Rev of the ins of GI (soldier) in PUB (hostelry)
24 JAVA J (Jack) And VerA computer-programming language, designed for the Internet.
25 HTML tHe TaMiLs – hypertext mark-up language, the language used to create World Wide Web documents.

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

33 Responses to “Guardian 25109 – Puck the Magic Dragon”

  1. JS says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for a very detailed blog.

    19ac ~ To be ‘half-cut’ is to be drunk.

    There is an ‘I’ missing in the online version; the PDF shows the correct spelling:

    Tír na nÓg ~ roughly meaning “Land of Youth” is the most popular of the Otherworlds in Irish mythology.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I loved “expire suddenly”!

    26ac is CUD “food brought up” GEL “posh” pronunciation of girl. Definition club.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap, especially for explaining the winter in 1a. I enjoyed this as much as you did – especially 29a. Never heard of BIG UP, but it went in, and there it was on Google.

  4. beermagnet says:

    Re: 27A IGNORANT
    My paper has Tr na nOg same as the On-line version – so some dead trees have been printed wrong.
    I agree that the pdf has it correct as Tír na NÓG, so this is the first time I’ve seen the pdf version differ from my actual paper.

    In fact I was not surprised as I knew the word really contained an i, and that it was spelled with accented characters, and that computers tend to screw them up (in fact I don’t expect the correct spelling above to come through so let’s have a link to the Wiki page: ).
    So in the end it was one of the easier clues.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you Uncle Yap for the usual comprehensive and informative blog. I don’t usually manage to finish a Puck, because he’s too … well, Puckish really. This was no exception and I had to give up with half a dozen left, but I admired the clues I did get. CANDYFLOSS was simple but clever; and WESTBURY too was good, now you’ve explained it.

    Tir na nOg was also the name of a folky Irish duo back in the early 70s whom I was a big fan of. Close harmonies, open guitar tunings … all good stuff.

  6. Stella says:

    Thanks for the blog Uncle Yap, especially for 1,2d.

    This had me almost completely flummoxed – apart from 27ac, which appears correctly in my online version (?) – until I reached the SE corner and realised what kind of languages Puck was referring to.

    I’d never heard of ‘head’ as ‘drug user’ or ‘blackjack’ as a club, but other clues raised a smile. I liked 3d and 29ac.

    One quibble, though: what is the definition in 14d?

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi Stella

    ‘With it’. 😉

  8. walruss says:

    ‘With it’ is the definition. Quite an interesting puzzle, though not too sure about the clarity in some of the clues. Maybe overly contorted, or trying too hard? I don’t know, but not entriely comfortable with Puck. Nasty grid too, with a lot of ‘dead ends’.

  9. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Uncle Yap. 27ac was correct in the pdf and the first one I got. I enjoyed the variety in this puzzle, also the more contemporary references. Thought 1,2dn was v clever! And 16dn raised a smile!

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and others

    Finished in haste before taking a few days off, but enjoyable puzzle.

    Tried exits for 4d before getting stroller. Exit is aooarently a type of finesse in card games!

    Also wondered if unaware = eyeless = i-less in 27a! Not quite a silk purse but definitely a sow’s ear!

    Several very good clues.

  11. Stella says:

    So ‘with it’ is ‘switched on’. I must be switched off then :) I’ll have to look it up in Chambers.

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, UY – needed the explanation for 1d. The paper version has: win-
    ter? (8)
    so the w inter is rather obscured.

    I don’t share your enthusiasm for this Xword. I agree with walruss at #8, though I didn’t mind the grid. There was a clutch of good clues, but I found many others contrived and awkward, for example: there is no definition in 17a unless it’s “one place for a slash” which is very weak; and why the “PCs” in 20a, with a questionable anagram indicator (“about”); 29a – the surface is grotty, lengthy and the Spoonerism goes the way most seem to in crossword clues; “just” in 11d is superfluous. 6d too many initials and abbreviations.

    I did like 21d, however.

  13. Ross Taylor says:

    Dave, PCs is for Personal Computers. When you “cut” text it goes to the clipboard to be pasted.

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Ross, I had read it as Police Constables. I don’t think it improves the clue much, though.

  15. reg says:

    Had ‘coptic’ for 5a (copped = understood). Completely flummoxed for 7d as a result.

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    A bit convoluted? That’ll be why I got stuck well before the end then!

    I’ve still got the first Tir Na Nog album, also called that, and also containing a song of that name.

  17. Tom Hutton says:

    I must say that when I look at a crossword like this with convoluted and ugly language in the clueing, my heart sinks. 29ac is an example. Even when I get the answers, which I did except 1 and 2dn which I had to look up in a gazeteer, I admire the cleverness but regret the contortions. Where is the definition of URL? Is it a place for a slash? I think that’s a bit thin. Is a headsquare an alternative to a hat. I must say I have never considered wearing one….and so on.

  18. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. I really enjoyed sparring with Puck this morning. Thankfully the missing ‘i’ had been reinstated in Tír na nóg in the online version by 10.30, when I looked at the crossword.

    In the end I gave up on HEADSQUARE, a word I don’t know but perhaps really should have got from the wordplay, which is far simpler than I imagined, and OILMEN, in which I completely failed to see the clever play on the word ‘well’.

    I also couldn’t see the clever and rather devious breakdown of Winter as W+inter.

    A few American terms in this: ‘john’ and ‘can’ in 22a; BLACKJACKS; ‘hick’ in 5a; and possibly others.

    Plenty of excellent surfaces in these clues; I particularly enjoyed 3d, 5d, 6d,15a and 29a. But that’s not to say others were less good.

    I find with Araucaria, Paul and now Puck (with whom I’ve only recently started to become acquainted), there’s a mixture of cunning and playfulness which makes me want to grapple with them. Some other setters don’t reward in the same way.

  19. otter says:

    Tom Hutton, msg 17: a URL is ‘a place for a slash’ in that URLs contain the ‘/’ symbol, commonly referred to in internet parlance as ‘slash’. I only realised this when I saw your comment, so thank you for raising it.

  20. Tokyocolin says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Your explanations helped me appreciate this one more.

    I hadn’t heard of the band but I recently had a drink at the Tir Na Nog beach bar on Gili Trawangan island off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. Never expected to encounter the name in a Guardian crossword!

  21. NeilW says:

    Which, otter, is why I spent too long trying to justify the answer to 19ac to be “dot” since the slashes are preceded by two dots… etc. (You get my drift I’m sure.) No one has has commented, by the way, on the fact that the ….s really work in this crossword for once!

    Also, I don’t understand the grumpiness of various other comments – Puck is a true libertarian but every clue works. Give me a puzzle like this any day rather than some of the other setters where one feels obliged to grind out the answers, brow furrowed.

  22. otter says:

    Neil, thanks for your reply. Do you know, I hadn’t even linked 17a and 19a while trying to solve the crossword? I think this is because ellipses are so rarely used in this way in crosswords, so I tend not to pay them any mind when I see them. It took me quite a while to get URL because of this.

    I agree with your latter comments about Puck’s setting style. It might require some lateral thinking at times, but I agree that each clues works (even though I might sometimes need this blog to explain why) and the playfulness in the clueing provides an extra dimension to the solving process. Puck is well named.

  23. Tom Hutton says:

    Otter, I realise that a URL has a slash or slashes in it. My query is whether the definition works well which I obviously don’t think it does. I appreciate with NeilW the fact that the …s really work by the way. It is a rarity.

  24. cholecyst says:

    Reg #15. I too had “coptic” for 5ac, using the same reasoning. Realised after looking it up that coptic is not only an ancient language but also a modern one. No complaints there, then.

    For some reason, the mini theme reminded me of an answer (WYSIWYG)in what I imagined to be a recent Paul puzzle

    but after looking at it saw it was not so recent.

  25. walruss says:

    That ‘w-inter’ is something you would probably NOT find in the better dailies, due to the inherent unfairness. There was a lot of hoo-ha about things like ‘inside’ meaning ‘in side’ for container clues, and the like, with people not liking it much.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    While I agree with walruss about WESTBURY [and breaking down ‘winter’ into ‘w/inter’ is different from ‘in/deed’ where the parts are syllables], I quite accept it from Puck here.
    He’s deliberately gone to the limit (and probably over it), but it works – and he’s only done it once, and a bit of cheekiness is allowed, I guess [well, in the Guardian, that is].

    This was certainly not a mediocre thirteen-in-a-dozen crossword.
    ‘Dull’ is not exactly the word that springs to mind.

    Good anagram of Tir Na Nog [and here’s another one that liked the band way back in the early seventies].
    We thought 18d (which was 4d) was another original clue.
    As was 3d (ALL FOURS) – very nice.

    Don’t know what Paul might think of 29d … rubbish setter? :)
    But fun to see Puck using a colleague’s name who recently did similar things.

    The ‘on’-rule [as strictly used by the Times] was clearly broken in 1ac (WEB PAGE), but who cares?

    Might well be that at on Friday or Saturday we’ll say:
    this was the best one this week!

  27. Derek Lazenby says:

    If I’d understood the clue (1/2d)I might have been a bit HMMMMM. Not sure whether I would have been miffed though, maybe, maybe not. I got it by the expedient of looking in Wikipaedia for 8 letter Wiltshire towns that could be split 4/4. There was only one, so it wasn’t difficult, unlike some of the others.

    If I was going to critisize any of them it would be 24d. Maybe I need to go to the pub (ooh good it’s nearly time!), but I think “regularly” when one of the four letters isn’t is a bit off. And the final 3 letters separated by two letters? Not what you would normally expect. Where is the limit? Every 59th letter? How utterly tedious to have to go through a word set trying to find a pattern at every possible separation until one works. That is not fun, so there must be a limit, but where?

  28. Davy says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap,

    A marvellous puzzle from Puck in my humble opiniion. I love puzzles that are different from the often boring, dreary sets of unrelated clues. HOUSEY HOUSEY made me laugh and my answer of the day has to be SWITCHED ON.
    Like many people I didn’t spot w+inter but it was an interesting device.

    I also saw Tir na Nog at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester back in the early seventies. They were playing support but I don’t remember who to. Yes, the good old days when I saw Led Zeppelin, Genesis and Lindisfarne on the same bill and all for the princely sum of 50 pence. I think this may have been 1968 or 1969.

  29. duncandisorderly says:

    don’t get 24d. I mean, I put “java” in because it’s the language obviously referred to, but how does it appear from “jack and vera”?
    even allowing “j” for “jack” & “a” for “and”, “vera regularly” gives either “v” & “r” or “e” & “a”.

    am I missing something?


  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi, duncand/is/orderly [if that’s how I have to break it up :) ].

    24d is:
    Oh no, that can’t be it.

    So it must be:
    J (=Jack) + A[nd]V[er]A (= ‘and Vera regularly’)

    Yep, that’s it – and you were almost there.

  31. Martin H says:

    A devious and imaginative puzzle, but my enjoyment was sometimes marred by laborious or sketchy clueing, as has been mentioned above (but no problem with w+inter, and I liked the rather wordy CUDGEL).

    BIG UP is interesting. It is, as molonglo notes, on Google. It’s given as Jamaican slang, defined as Puck has it, in the ‘Urban Dictionary’. It’s worth a look. Many of the terms beginning with ‘big’, as can be imagined, lead one in directions not usually seen as appropriate for the Guardian Crossword, but I wonder if ‘big urn’ or ‘big tyma’, even if clear from wordplay, would raise as little comment as ‘big up’ has today. Or perhaps everyone knows it already.

  32. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Evening Martin. Yes, BIG UP is interesting. Since I confessed to being a Tir na Nog fan, I am obviously of a certain age (and hello, fellow fans) but I just knew it, maybe from my kids. I don’t think it’s been in common parlance for more than a few years, but I could be wrong.

    And not so many years ago Puck wouldn’t have been able to include URL, JAVA or HTML, so nice to see some clueing of modern terms. The times they are a-changin’, as Mr Zimmerman once said. Anyway, since I’m of that certain age, it’s past my bedtime.

  33. Carrots says:

    When Uncle Yap introduces “a (most entertaining) delightful puzzle from Puck” you know immediately that you are going to be in trouble. And I was…right from the outset. No fewer than seven left at surrender time. I put it down to a week with no pintas in the interests of health and efficiency. Starbucks isn`t the same as my usual lunchtime spit and sawdust haunt: stiff with corpulent, young tattoo`ed mothers parking double baby-buggies in inconvenient places. I wouldn`t have minded so much if I`d got STROLLER, but I didn`t.

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