Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,191 (Sat 11 Dec)/Paul – Lizstless

Posted by rightback on December 18th, 2010


Solving time: 9 mins

I got in a right tangle with this thanks to 3/18dn: with ???M?? AND ????? in place and ‘drunk’ the last word of the clue, the answer was clearly ‘Brahms and Liszt’ (rhyming slang for another word for ‘drunk’). This took ages to unpick and serves me right twice, firstly for not taking a proper look at the wordplay and secondly for somehow failing to notice that the ‘M’ in the first word was actually in the wrong place!

The puzzle itself was a good one; some of the surfaces perhaps weren’t as smooth as Paul sometimes achieves but the cryptic readings made a nice change by being accurate throughout.

Music of the day (8ac): From 11ac, here’s the Stone Roses with Elephant Stone.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

8,9,24 ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM; rev. of PELE, + HAN (= ‘dynasty’), + TIN + HE + rev. of MOOR (the ‘protoganist’ of Othello) – very nice union of ‘Brazilian dynasty’ which steered me cleverly away from Pelé.
10,4 PORT + STANLEY – ‘knife man’ is a sort of double indication to STANLEY rather than (as I guessed when solving) a reference to the inventor of the Stanley knife, which was named after a company which made such knives. Port Stanley is the capital of the Falkland Islands.
14 EMIGRATE; E + MIG-RATE – a MiG being a Russian aircraft.
15 BRIO + CHE (= Che Guevara, hence ‘red’ in the sense of ‘revolutionary’)
17 NEUTRAL; (RENAULT)*, semi-&lit
20 BULGARIA; BUG around [nationa]L, + ARIA
22 APHIDS; HID in [b]APS – I wasn’t convinced by ‘bread, heads bitten off’; there’s only one missing ‘head’ here.
23 PICOSECOND; rev. of SO in (ICE + C), all in POND
25,12,26 EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL; (V + V + ORIGINAL ELIXIR TO + E[njoy])* – a nice anagram, which was easy to spot once I’d sorted out the mess I’d made of 3/18dn.
1 BLOODIER; LOO (= ‘Little room’) + DIE, all in B[ombe]R
2 SPOT (2 defs) – cream as in anti-zit cream.
3,18 BATMAN AND ROBIN; MANAN[a] (= ‘later cut short’) after BAT (= ‘club’), + (BIRD ON)*
5 FISHWIFE; SH[o]W + I, all in FIFE – one of the trickier ones, I thought. This was my penultimate solve, with 13dn my last.
6 AT A STRETCH (1 def, 1 literal interpretation)
7 S + ELECT – ‘elect’ and ‘select’ both come from Latin legere (‘to choose’) so this isn’t a great clue.
13 GEORG SOLTI; (T[h]E + R + GIGOLO + [bu]S)* – Paul’s obligatory smut clue. For some reason I persuaded myself that the ‘conductor’ was probably a metal of some kind and only changed my mind when nothing would fit ‘G?O?G’. Not very sharp.
16 HORSEMAN; (SAME)* in HORN – because Death was one of the four horseman of the apocolypse. ‘Death’ requires a capital in this sense so the clue is nicely worded with ‘Death’ as the first word to avoid this standing out. This is a much better solution than just dropping the capital, as seen in other puzzles recently.
19 GASOHOL; (SO + H[ydrogen]) in GAOL – ‘locked up?’ cryptically indicating ‘in gaol’.
22 ALDRIN; A, + rev. of (R[oa]D in NIL)
24 RHEA (hidden) – because rheas can’t fly.

17 Responses to “Guardian 25,191 (Sat 11 Dec)/Paul – Lizstless”

  1. Biggles A says:

    I found it hard to get going on this one even after the benefit of two or three easy gifts. My last was 22d and it took some time to realise cipher = zero = nil. I was fixated on cipher as the anagrind with a rd (road) in but couldn’t account for the l or “taking off”. I particularly liked 13 and 8,9,24. I agree with rightback that in 22a “heads” should be singular.

  2. Biggles A says:

    Oh and I think 8,9,24 contains TOM = male around Hero = protagonist.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. The opening clue 8,9,24 could only refer to Pele, and so was a doddle – and the top half was generally straightforward. Some toughies further down, the toughest, best and last for me was 15a. No trouble getting the 3, 18 men in tights: but blowed if I could parse the middle of that clue, so thanks.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Rightback and Paul. This was very enjoyable.

    Like you, I was misdirected by Brazilian Dynasty before getting charged by that lurking ELEPHANT.

    Importantly (for me) there were no obscurities but I consider it very un-Paul-like for him to have included a Virgin.

  5. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Rightback,

    This was fun. Barring 13d not as saucy as usual – Paul on better behaviour because it is a prize puzzle?

    Struggled to parse both 22s though both were obvious answers. Re 22a I assume he pluralised ‘heads’ to help indicate ‘baps’ for ‘bread’ which was certainly not obvious to me.

    16d was my favourite for the clever construction.

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks rightback and Paul

    A very entertaining puzzle.

    Some excellent clues giving lots of smiles, with the usual comic smuttiness esp. in 13d (a pretty clever clue which I took some time to see through). These clues tend to bring out the worst of one’s free associations only to rebuke you for them later.

    I was slightly puzzled by the definition in 8a (a nicely structured clue) since I had always thought of the elephant being exactly that i.e. ‘avoided’. But more thought and wiki left me feeling the phrase’s implications were not always to be taken that way.

    I found 23a (picosecond) hard (took some time to see the ‘pond’ = water part) and also 22d which I liked.

    10,4, 15, 3,18, 5, and 16 also pleased. 3,18 took some parsing but I was chuffed to get it right in the end.

    Re baps – I saw it as each of several losing its head

  7. tupu says:

    ps re rhea. I missed the obvious point re flightlessness (despite ‘knowing it’) after mistakenly assuming the species was extinct!

  8. Eileen says:

    Thanks, rightback.

    I agree with your reservations about SELECT and I don’t really equate FISHWIFE with ‘battleaxe’.

    I read 8,9,24 as Biggles A did and made the same assumption as Dad’sLad and tupu re ‘heads’ in 22ac.

  9. plutocrat says:

    Stared at this one for half an hour. Got exactly nothing. Gave up. Funny how Paul does that to me. Sometimes I can get his thinking and complete the puzzle in an hour or two. Other times he seems to be on a completely different wavelength.

  10. Stella Heath says:

    I read this through on the Saturday afternoon, but my brain was a little addled from a morning ‘binge’ ( .)), so I left it till the next day, when I managed all but 2 and 6d., which I put in this morning – without cheating.

    Like you, RB, I immediately thought of Brams and Liszt, but fortunately hesitated to put it in, and eventually crossing letters proved it wrong. I didn’t see the parsing of the correct solution, though – it’s difficult for me to see ‘manana’ as later. As I remarked yesterday, ‘ñ’ is a useful little letter :)

    Thanks for the blog, and to Paul for a tough but entertaining puzzle. I didn’t know 23ac. – and can’t even imagine it now I do – but it was gettable from the wordplay

  11. Carrots says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful puzzle from Paul. I had heard of “nanosecond” but not PICOSECOND or GASOHOL, both of which I had to look up.

    ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM had me going round in circles until I remembered seeing an art installation by “Banksy”, the graffiti artist. A demure suburban lady reclines on a couch in a room decorated with flock wallpaper, completely oblivious of an elephant covered in the same pattern. I took it to “mean” the indiffernce of affluent society to huge political, social and economic problems, but I may well be wrong.

    There is also a resonance with James Thurber (to whom I have previously referred), and especially to his iconic cartoon, “I thought I heard a seal bark”.

    There were too many excellent clues to single any out and I have found myself musing about a few during the past week. Thanks Paul (and Lightning)!!

  12. Stella Heath says:

    That thing in brackets was supposed to be a :)

  13. tupu says:

    Hi Carrots
    Nice to share a liking for James Thurber whose work I first encountered in the 1950s. I also encountered and liked the very different humour of Samuel Perelman at that time.

    Apparently the ‘elephant in the room’ phrase goes back to New York Times, 1959.

    I’m still slightly puzzled by ‘it’s unavoidable’ Perhaps ‘ultimately unavoidable’ might be better – or am I just missing something?

  14. Robi says:

    Thanks Paul and Rightback, who provided the explanations for my answers in some cases (e.g. 22a, 3/18). I assume Stella @ 10 is not a scientist – I knew ‘picosecond,’ but missed the pond! ‘Brazilian dynasty’ was a nice way of misleading me – I got the answer long before I could understand why it was there. The annotated solution seems to go with the explanation of Biggles @2; otherwise, there seems to be a ‘T’ missing (?)

  15. Martin H says:

    My only slight niggle with this one is with 6d: If you’re going to use Christmas cracker humour your surface has to be completely coherent and deadpan, and ‘at a push’ somehow doesn’t go with trousers. That’s easily forgiven though, because this is as good a crossword as I’ve ever seen – anywhere: plain, no gimmicks, Paul’s unique style shines through every clue. The agility of thought behind the wordplay and some of the imagery – surface and solution taken together – puts this in a league of its own: 1d, 13d, 16d, to pick three among many. Obligatory smut I’d find simply tiresome, rb – to make that surface from ‘Georg Solti’ is really something else; and plural baps can have plural heads can’t they?

    Superb Paul, thank you.

  16. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Completely agree with the Speaker @ 15.
    Could have been my words this week.
    Nothing to add.

  17. Carrots says:

    Tupu: Perelman, along with Tom Lehrer , Thurber and Lenny Bruce were all born of a USA that could confidently poke fun at itself. If our Americano friends could only do so today, then their foreign wars might just prompt reflection on their absurdity…and obscenity. All the bleatings about Paul`s occasional “smuttiness” make me see red….words never hurt anyone, but bombs do!

    Sil stuck for words?!? Now that`s a first!!

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