Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7609 by Eimi

Posted by NealH on March 7th, 2011


*=anag, []=dropped, <=reversed, hom=homophone, CD=cryptic def, DD=double def, sp=spoonerism

This was one of those puzzles where you know, from the presence of some slightly odd words in the down clues, that there must be something going on in the acrosses. However, it wasn’t at all obvious to me what it was and, after a fair amount of research, I eventually established that all the acrosses were song titles by the band Elbow. This useful page lists them all. I can’t honestly say it’s a band I’ve listened to much, so it was certainly educational for me. It was quite a tour to de force from Eimi to get all those song titles in. The only criticism you could make is that it did force a number of rather obscure words (e.g. dripple, untutelar, aggrate) into the grid. My favourite clue was 5 down – simple but cleverly worded.

7 Any Day Now: (No way Andy)*.
8,12 Great Expectations: (Tax percentage is to)*. Novel by Dickens, of course, but also an Elbow song.
9,11 Buttons and Zips: N(ewton) (unit of force) in (dustbins to zap)*.
16/27 Fallen Angel: All in (Fine Gael)* with N instead of I.
17/23 Powder Blue: Clue implying lube*.
20 Coming Second: DD.
24 Mirrorball: Mirror + ball.
28 Starlings: Tar + ling in SS.
1 Untutelar: (Late U-turn)*
2 Edit: [Assang]e + dit (term for the dot in Morse code).
3 Cyan: Hidden in “frequency analysis”.
4 Sonatas: So + Satan<.
5 Brazen: Bra + zen.
6 Kappa: App in Ka (type of car). Purists might argue for a for instance when describing an app as an iPhone program because apps are also used on other phone types and PCs.
10 Dripple: &lit. [Pon]d + ripple.
13 Pal: DD.
14 Confirm: Con + firm.
15 Headology: Head + ology. I’ve only ever read one Terry Pratchett book (I found that was enough) and don’t recall headology from that one, but it seems to be some sort of witches’ folk psychology.
18 Woo: Initial letters of “Wizard of Oz”.
19 Aggrate: GR in agate. This is an obsolete word, hence the “no longer”.
21 Opener: DD (opening batsman).
22 Llano: Hidden, rev in “National lottery.
25 Ogre: Ergo<.
26 Brie: Brie[f], referring to the Noel Coward screenplay for the film Brief Encounter.

21 Responses to “Independent 7609 by Eimi”

  1. Conrad Cork says:

    Er, buttons and zips, surely?

  2. scchua says:

    Thanks for the blog Neal, and Eimi for a nicely pitched puzzle, with many inventive devices, though the theme and band totally escaped me.

    Favourites were 9 11 BUTTONS AND ZIPS, the seldom used N=Newton will surely appeal to science-minded solvers; 17 23 POWDER BLUE, one of those clue-like answers – wonder if any setter has used “powder” as an anagrind; and 26D BRIE, liked “coward-ly”.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Neal.

    I think my executive summary is that this is pushing the boundaries of a daily cryptic a bit. As usual with eimi, there were some clues that were clever (SONATAS), some excellent anagrams (GREAT EXPECTATIONS), and some smiley moments (BRAZEN). I also liked the up-to-date 21dn, where my first instinct was to enter USELESS until I realised that the solution only had six letters.

    But there were four real obscurities in the downs, and BUTTONS AND ZIPS also seemed a bizarre definition, although to be fair the crossing Z gave it away in the end. Elbow? Never heard of them, but I’ll ask the kids tonight when they get in from school. I’d wager though that a very small percentage of solvers would have had any idea what was going on here with the theme.

    From memory, eimi is the holder of my 2010 MONA (most obscure Nina award), and I know this is a theme and not a Nina, and it’s only March, but … I think this is going to take some catching.

    I seem to have gone on a bit, but thank you eimi for the puzzle, and after all it’s better to be (gently) criticised than ignored, nesspa?

  4. malc95 says:

    K’s D

    21d – not that up-to-date! He won’t need support any more.

  5. nmsindy says:

    When I finished this, I said I bet it has something to do with some band. And so it proved, tho I’d not heard of them. However, it was good that I was able to solve the puzzle nonetheless because of the fair clueing esp for the unusual words. My favourite clue was LLANO, BRIE using cowardly was nice too – also esp liked STARLINGS and SONATAS. It was quite a hard puzzle. Thanks, NealH, for the blog and Eimi for the puzzle.

  6. Richard Palmer says:

    I solved this with few problems but did not spot the theme as I can’t tell my arias from my elbow!

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    malc95 at no 4: you are more up-to-date than I am! Apparently the pain is ‘debilitating’. Poor love. But how clever is it of eimi to get such a topical clue in? The least I would have expected is that there would have been a late edit to insert ‘until today’ in the clue …

  8. Peter says:

    Whatever you do, do NOT look up Dripple in the urban dictionary…

  9. Richard says:

    Not much to add. Got there in the end. Too many obscurities for me, I fear, but very clever of Eimi to get the reference to the Duke of York (4 ac) in today’s puzzle. No doubt he can expect a surprise visit from the SAS.

  10. Richard says:

    I meant 7 across (see above).

  11. flashling says:

    Certainly didn’t know my Elbow from an other part of my anatomy wrt the theme, which I assumed had something to do with Spring or Lent being any day soon, didn’t stop a relatively quick solve though. Perhaps to my shame I do know Terry P’s works rather well, very funny they are too as well a being a savage parody of Earth.

    Cowardly a nice misdirection and Eimi’s KP line couldn’t really have been more poorly timed alas.

    Nice start to the week, thank you Eimi and Neal

  12. Paul B says:

    I read somewhere online that Spanish archer is ‘Cockney Rhyming Slang’ for elbow: but shurely thish ish not the caishe. El Bow is a foreigners-are-so-cute kind of a gag, yesh it ish.

    Eimi here presents his customary slippery genius in the form of a very up-to-date musical entertainment, and darn good it is too. Lots of fun, and I thought the more difficult words – justified by the theme, n’est que c’est pas? – were handled extremely well.

    Scattered blacks and whites everywhere there were, too: should we not add that to the total of Elbow titles given some kind of a mention in this generously theme-dense number? Oh, go on.

  13. Scarpia says:

    Thanks NealH.
    Not a bad puzzle from Eimi with some very good clues.POWDER BLUE gave away the Elbow theme for me,but I’m not familiar with all their work so had to Google to confirm the theme.
    Quite surprised solvers have not heard of them,they did win the Mercury prize a couple of years ago and they have a new album out this week,which has been widely reviewed.
    BRAZEN and KAPPA were my favourites.
    Whilst the clueing for 1 down was o.k. I don’t like this sort of word.It may be permissable grammatically to put UN in front of adjectives to form an opposite,but a quick search of Google only gives pages with gobbledegook(dictionary hits only link to tutelar) and there are no English language hits in Google books.

  14. Allan_C says:

    Missed the theme but almost got there – didn’t get AGGRATE, all I could think of was ‘agorate’ (‘or’ for ‘old king’) and that it was even more obscure than ‘dripple’, to the extent that even googling couldn’t find it.

  15. nmsindy says:

    Re Scarpia’s comment at 13 on 1 down, the TEA Crossword Helper software turned up 1 down UNTUTELAR with a citation in Webster’s dictionary. It seemed the most likely thing that would fit once I’d the crossing letters.

  16. Scarpia says:

    Thanks(yet again!) nmsindy,
    I don’t have the software you mention,but Webster’s online does not give UNTUTELAR.I use 3 different dictionary search websites(OneLook,Wordnik and Wordweb)and none of them list it,nor do any of the 5 online dictionaries that I tried.
    But as you say with the crossing letters and anagram fodder it could not be anything else.

  17. nmsindy says:

    Re 16, the citation in TEA, which I should have quoted, is Webster’s New International Dictionary 2nd Edition

  18. Scarpia says:

    Thanks nms.
    I guess there must be more in the print edition than on their online database.

  19. eimi says:

    Thanks to Neal for the blog and others for the comments. I will admit to a being a bit self-indulgent in this tribute to one of my favourite bands, timed to greet the release of their long-awaited fifth album, and containing at least one song from each of the previous four.

    I’m sure most people have heard Elbow, whether they realise it or not, as their song One Day Like This has been used as backing music in many TV programmes/trails etc. You can watch/listen here:

    They are a very literate band, musically and lyrically, and as Paul B has mentioned one of their songs is called Scattered Black and Whites and includes the line “Crosswords through the bathroom door”.

    I was a bit unlucky with the timing for KP, but his timing’s been out for a while too. And I can cope with the gentle criticism, KD (good point for your boys on Saturday btw – appreciated in some quarters!)

  20. Jack Aubrey says:

    After a gentle start from Rufus and Orlando this morning (qv) this seemed to be going well until I ran aground on some of the more obscure entries. I must have been asleep at the back because tne theme eluded me almost entirely: just an occasional glimpse of a kid here and there……

  21. Sil van den Hoek says:

    What struck me most (ánd impressed me) was the fact that the editor, yes, the editor, presented us a crossword with a theme that would be called “obscure” by many, certainly at other places.
    Even though I have all four previous Elbow albums, the titles didn’t a ring a bell … Shame on me.
    Some people must have heard “The Seldom Seen Kid”, perhaps even more than “One Day Like This”.
    Eimi, a theme like this is, in my opinion, what Crosswordland needs to remove the occasional dust from its surface.

    And the crossword itself? Nice one!

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