Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,558 / Loroso

Posted by smiffy on December 2nd, 2010


Plenty of high-calibre material in here.  Loroso’s eclectic style almost defies pigeon-holing; in many ways traditional yet ever-innovative; occasionally fiendish with wordplay but usually complemented or vindicated by the most natural of surface readings.  Main hold-up for me today was trying to meld the anagram fodder at 29A into an unfamiliar phrase.  I got lucky with an early flash of divine(!) inspiration on the other unknown (at 15D), which on another day could have proved a head-scratcher.

1 SNOWSHOE RABBIT – (how absorbent is)*.
10 LATHI – lath (a wooden ‘strip’)+ I.
11 MARY TUDOR – (duty)< in mar + OR.
12 CHIMERA chime + r + a.
13 LIGHTEN – {p}light} = e{lectio}n.
14 DEGAS – d[o] e[veryone] + gas.  A perfect example of combining the definition and smooth wordplay in misleading fashion.
16 ON STAND-BY – (nasty – Bond)*.
19 AMOURETTE – (True)* in a mote.  With &lit-ish overtones.  I wasn’t whelmed by the anagrind, but at least it’s couched in (somewhat apologetic?) quote marks.
20 HOSEA – (OS in he) + a.
22 VERTIGO– vert (heraldic ‘green’) + I go.
25 ETHICAL – hic in (et al).  There’s a shot of that aforementioned innovative-thinking for you folks (‘device to say “I’m drunk”‘ = hic!).
26 STYLELESS – (yet sell) in ss (=’seconds’).
29 DOLCE FAR NIENTE – (on trial defence)*.  Latin for “sweet nothing”.  With D*L** in place for the first word, I suspected a non-English phrase, but still almost resorted to rooting out the Scrabble tiles and shuffling them around in search of a plausible answer.

2/3/4 NOTHING TO WRITE HOME ABOUT – proverbial/literal doube def’n.
5 ENROL – n[ew] in lore<.
6 AUTOGRAPH nd– a + (rap in tough*).  I was initially unconvinced about ‘plastic’  as the anagrind, but I think it can be vindicated in a vernacular way.  For example, in my neck of the woods, the “I’m one-sixteenth Irish!” hangers-on that come out of the woodwork for St Patrick’s Day celebration are referred to as Plastic Paddies.
7 BIDET – I’d in bet.
8 TYRANNY – homophone of “why” in tranny (the MW/LW type, not the AC/DC type.)
9 PLACID – hidden reversal.
15 SORTILEGE – leg in sortie.  It’s a form of divination, based on drawing lots. So pretty much like the Italian electoral system then.
17 STEVENSON – St. + even so + [unknow]n.  There’s an admirable lot in a little here.
18 DESICCANT – sic in decant.
19 ADVISED – (additives)* – it.  Not sure I get the full cleverness here. as the question mark infers some kind of punning definition, I think.
21 ASLEEP – as + peel<.  So simple, so elegant, so the clue of the day for me.
23/24/26 ROYAL OPERA HOUSE – rep< in (A solo you hear)*.

7 Responses to “Financial Times 13,558 / Loroso”

  1. Steve says:

    Thanks for the blog smiffy – this was a tough one! I also don’t get the definition for 19D, but assume it’s referring to ‘well-advised’?

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Smiffy – a delight of a puzzle, as always from this setter.

    In 6dn, i took ‘plastic’ in its meaning of ‘having the power to take on different forms’ rather than ‘artificial’ or ‘synthetic’, so it’s a great anagrind, I think.

    Favourite clue out of so many excellent ones: ETHICAL.

    [DOLCE FAR NIENTE is Italian, not Latin – super surface!]

  3. anax says:

    Many thanks for an excellent blog smiffy.

    Sorry to jump in so early with a response, but I just want to let people know that (unexpectedly – just been told today) one of mine is in the Independent’s ‘i’ paper tomorrow. I’m hoping that those who can battle through the nation’s 1-foot snowdrifts will buy a copy. I know the puzzle isn’t blogged, but it has a moderately unusual thematic twist which I really hope solvers will enjoy.

    Oh crikey. Just realised I’ve plummeted into rank self-promotion. Someone hit me, please.

  4. anax says:

    Oops – forgot to clear up 19d. The def is as in ‘you would be as well to…” = ‘you would be advised to…’

  5. gnomethang says:

    How fortunate I was to be snowed in today and looking for another puzzle after DT, Toughie and Times.
    This filled the bill very nicely and although I failed on 10a ultimately I did a sight better than normal with Anax/Loroso. Cheers fellah!, there was much to enjoy here over a late afternoon pint with 1a and 21d being firm favourites.

  6. scarpia says:

    Thanks smiffy.
    A fairly tough puzzle but ultimately very satisfying.
    Wasn’t keen on the definition in 1 across at first(rabbit and hare are similar but different creatures)but I see from the dictionary that a snowshoe rabbit is actually a hare – another example of Americans misusing English!

  7. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Friday evening.
    Came home late from work.
    In a week in which everything’s delayed.
    Went to London on Tuesday to say ‘hi’ to Paul, couldn’t do his his puzzle that day, did it on Wednesday.
    Couldn’t do this Loroso yesterday, did it tonight.
    Completely on my own, this time.

    I’m a very slow solver.
    One eye on the crossword and one eye on the food.
    One eye on the crossword and one eye on Lazio v Inter.
    No eyes on the crossword when my brother rang me.
    Half an eye on the crossword and one and a half on Krautrock (BBC4).

    What a joy altogether.

    ETHICAL (25ac) – wow.
    LIGHTEN (13ac) – what a great way to clue such a simple word.
    STEVENSON and DESICCANT – well, what can you say.

    I found them all, while multi-tasking.
    What a good puzzle, and what a good way to spend a Friday evening!

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