Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7556/Punk

Posted by John on January 4th, 2011


Punk doesn’t seem to appear so much as he used to in the Indy, but perhaps that’s just an impression. He has produced a crossword with some good clues; there used to be (but it has now gone) a description of him as ‘libertarian’ at the top of this page (Setters) and it was, unlike some of the other descriptions and assessments of difficulty, accurate.

Twice in this crossword he uses texting language for a single letter. I have read a discussion on this recently and some of the participants thought it was quite OK. I’m not quite sure.

1 PAGANISM — (ms in a gap)rev. — I don’t like the use of ‘with’ as a link-word: I know some people try to justify it, but it doesn’t convince me
10 ROMULUS AND REMUS — (surround male)* (sum)rev. — not absolutely sure that back is good enough as a reversal indicator — Romulus and Remus were the legendary founders of Rome, reared by wolves
11 S(TRAY)S — good clue where the def is ‘Animals abandoned’
13 BORDELLO — (doorbell)* — ‘with’ again
15/20 THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME — 2 defs, joined by ‘for’
16 DAB — (bad)rev.
18 E FT
23 U SURER — the first instance of texting language
25 NAG (O RN OK) ARAB A K H — there are some who don’t like the use of ‘s in this way: what does it mean? ‘a horse of a king’, or ‘a king has horse’? In neither case can it be grammatically justified, they say; I think I rather agree with them
27 E STATE — after someone dies their estate is what’s left
1/19 PERISH THE THOUGHT — 2 defs, one of them fanciful
2 GUM TREE — gum = stick, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, up a gum tree = in difficulties
3 N 1 L
4 ThiS A SHouldered — very good anagram &lit.
6 WOR(L(D)SE)RIES — the World Series, being a baseball event, takes place on a pitch (field?) where there is a diamond
7 PIMPLED — pimp-led, referring to 13 which is bordello
8 D{ance} IS CO — not quite sure here: a CO is a commanding officer, who is in charge, but is CO therefore = in charge?
9 UNSOUNDLY — 2 defs, again one of them fanciful
12 YOU DIRTY RAT — y (tutor diary)* — a line which James Cagney famously never actually said, hence the ‘misquoted’ — the a.i. is ‘form’ — again Punk has used texting language here
14 SPOKEN FOR — 4 is ‘four’ and if spoken it’s ‘for’
21 GARBAGE — dress = garb, so dressage possibly = garbage
22 FENCE — 2 defs
24/26 PA(LEA)LE — pale ale is beer, presumably bitter but not evidently around very much nowadays: I remember it from my parents — a pale is part of a fence

9 Responses to “Independent 7556/Punk”

  1. scchua says:

    Thanks John for the blog, and Punk for an average-difficulty (my standards) puzzle.

    Quite straightforward clues, but with the same doubts as you have about using texting language. At the least, there should be some indication that it’s another “language”, or, perhaps, as in the cases here that it’s homophonic.

    Favourites were 6D WORLD SERIES, and 17D BEE ORCHID, liked the wordplay of both, and 14D SPOKEN FOR.

  2. walruss says:

    ‘In text’ I suppose could be used as some kind of ‘ind’! But very loose all round today from Punk.

  3. Mick H says:

    I’m all for using texting language, myself – U for you, Y for why etc are instantly accessible to anyone, it’s not as if it’s some rarefied code. And what’s wrong with ‘back’ as a reversal indicator?
    I enjoyed this from Punk, nice to see Nagorno-Karabakh back in the paper after a few years for reasons unconnected with border violence. And 7 down was great, though I tried to justify RUMP-LED for a while!

  4. nmsindy says:

    Amusing puzzle in the Punk style. I esp liked STRAYS, THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME, WORLD SERIES, and PIMPLED.

  5. Lenny says:

    I enjoyed this gentle Punk. The only problem was of my own making because I initially tossed in Richard the Third on the strength of the numeration and the supposed definition “male struggling with back problem”. I soon realised that the imagined anagram did not exist
    I’m used to Punk/Paul using texting language in his clues so I did not think twice about it. I was not so happy about Herbert Beerbohm Tree turning up again. Many solvers, myself included, feel that it is time that this actor was forcibly retired from crosswords. I finished with Nagorno-Karabakh, which I was pleased to get from the wordplay.

  6. flashling says:

    Well I finished it without help although the Nagorno-Karabakh tested the brain memory cells. Cheers John/Punk. World series was a tester as indeed spotting the anagram of doorbell.

  7. John says:

    I’m ashamed (?) to say that I don’t possess a mobile phone and so have never sent a text. Accessible to all? Yes I suppose so in a sense. And I’d be quite happy if there was a convention that texting language could be used without any signposting in a crossword; the only trouble at present is that it hasn’t been so used, so its appearance is arguably a bit unfair.

    As for ‘back’ as a reversal indicator, in my opinion if it’s used as an imperative that’s OK, and if it’s used as an adverb then that’s also OK, but in each case the grammar must be correct, and I’m not sure that in this case (10ac) it is — ‘…struggling with back problem’. Where is the proper grammatical instruction to reverse ‘sum’? It strikes me as the same sort of thing as what seems to me to be bad grammar and which I criticised in 25ac.

  8. Scarpia says:

    Thanks John.
    I enjoyed this puzzle which,as you say,featured a fair number of ‘liberties’.Particularly liked the 7 and 13 coupling.
    I share your qualms about using texting language – I’m proud to say that I don’t possess a mobile phone so the abbreviations are not immediately familiar to me.
    Saying which.Y,U, and R,I remember from an acronym that was around in my schooldays(40 odd years ago) –

  9. Allan_C says:

    I do possess a mobile phone and send/receive the occasional text, though I tend to spell everything out. As far as crosswords go I’m reasonably happy with single letter homophones such as b, u, y and some of the acronyms which have come into common use such as btw or imho – sometimes seen in comments on this site, but I think it could be taken too far. I agree that some sort of indicator is required. “Text” is fairly obvious but one could use, say, “mobile” or “message”. No doubt some of our ingenious setters can think of others.

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7 × = twenty eight