Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13695 PHSSTHPOK

Posted by scchua on May 17th, 2011


My first FT blog was a PHSSTHPOK, so I’ve come full circle.  But this was slightly more difficult than the first.  But got there in the end, after correcting a spelling error in 12A.  Thanks PHSSTHPOK.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.


 1 Register when some burning issue is raised (4,2)

SIGN IN :  Hidden(some) and reversed(raised, some would raise their eyebrows at this being used for an across clue, but I think it’s now become crossword convention) in burNING ISsue.

 5 According to rumour, beat it hollow (6)

SOCKET :  Homophone(according to rumour, ie. hearsay) of SOCK IT(punch,beat it).  Defn:  Hollow, noun, eg. where your “…thigh bone connected to your hip bone…(Dem Bones)”.


9 Guided North: grasping, holding opening (9)

NAVIGATED :  N(north) + AVID(greedy,grasping eg. for pleasure) around(holding) VENT(opening, noun)

10 Rough total (5)

UNCUT :  Double defn:  1st: Pertaining to gemstones, especially rough (literally) diamonds; and 2nd:  Pertaining to writing or films, the full monty, the totality of it.

11 Seek votes to elect holder of nothing brilliant (8)

POLITICK :  PICK(to elect) around(holder) of {O(nothing) + LIT(brilliant,shone on)}.  Defn:  Make promises, kiss babies, smear opponents, fear-monger, and so on to win your election campaign.  We’ve just had a General Election here 10 days ago, so this is fresh in my mind.

12 Little pieces of torn up chamois, not hard (6)

MOSAIC :  Anagram(torn up) of CAMOIS(chamois without,not H,abbrev. for hard).


14 Drunk tea and brine I’d mixed together (10)

INEBRIATED :  Anagram(mixed together) of {TEA + BRINE ID}.

15 Still, I find mythical creature (4)

YETI :  YET(still,nevertheless as in “to be rich and still crave for more”) + I.  Defn:  AKA the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, what a bad rap he’s got!

17 With boss, a dance star (4)

NOVA :  NOVA(2nd part of Bossa(boss, a) Nova = a Brazilian rhythm and dance and the associated music, literally Portuguese for “new trend”).

19 Kills gaiety aboard ship (10)

SLAUGHTERS :  LAUGHTER(gaiety) in(aboard) SS(from the days of the steam­­ship, or perhaps screw-driven steamship).

22 Man or woman is a good finisher (6)

GENDER :  G(abbrev. for good) + ENDER(a finisher).  Defn:  Originally used only for grammatical categories, eg. of nouns, verbs and articles.  In the 50’s it was used to distinguish roles in society.  Gradually it became a euphemistic substitute for Sex, ie. male/female, man or woman eg. in official forms.

23 In general viewing no spicy tuna head ingredients (8)

SYNOPTIC :  Anagram of(ingredients) {NO SPICY + T(initial letter,head of tuna)}.  Defn:  Taking a general view of the main parts of a subject, topic, story; the noun of which is “synopsis”.

25 Key is given to tenants (5)

ISLETIS + LET(given to tenants).  Defn:  A small lowlying island or reef, especially in the Gulf of Mexica, hence the Florida Keys.  An alternative spelling to cay (of Spanish origin).

Bahia Honda state park, Marathon Key, Florida Keys






26 At opera gigs, play musical chords (9)

ARPEGGIOS :  Anagram(at…play) of OPERA GIGS.  Nice surface reading.

27 Secretary has makeshift shelter in plain (6)

PATENT :  PA(­personal assistant,secretary) +(has) TENT(makeshift shelter).  Defn:  Clear,plain as in “to be patently wrong”

28 Cleaned up and held basic instincts in (6)

TIDIED :  ID(the unconscious, instinctive, primitive and basic identity in you, according to Freud) in TIED(held together).


 2 Absorb small volume in diseased vein (7)

INVOLVE :  VOL(short for,small volume) in anagram(diseased) of VEIN.

3 Useless to attack a rightwinger after change in leader (8)

NUGATORY :  NUG(MUG,attack after change in initial letter,leader, from M to N) + A TORY(a rightwinger).  Defn:  Invalid,useless.

4 Prominent celebrity wears diamonds (10)

NOTICEABLE :  NOTABLE(celebrity) around(wears) ICE(slang for diamonds, the cut type).

5 Team groaned audibly (4)

SIDE :  Homophone(audibly) of SIGHED(groaned)

6 Successful manoeuvre over ticket (6)

COUPON :  COUP(a brilliant and successful action,manoeuvre) + ON(over).

7 Caught usurping society to subjugate ghetto (7)

ENCLAVE :  C(abbrev. for caught as in cricket) replacing(usurping) S(abbrev. for Society) in ENSLAVE(subjugate).

8 Bugs remain in cults (5,7)

STICK INSECTS :  STICK(verb, as in “stick to,remain by my side”) and IN + SECTS(cults).  (BigDave’s got his turtles, I’ve got my stick insects, cf.Quiptic 594!)

 9 Without French bread, fail to profit from harsh exercise regime (2,4,2,4)

NO PAIN NO GAIN :  NO(without) PAIN(French for bread) NO GAIN(fail to profit).

13 Mole in woodland glade, perhaps (6,4)

BEAUTY SPOT :  Double defn:  1st:  Dark mark,a mole, sometimes put on, on face to enhance one’s beauty, supposedly; and 2nd:  a beautiful location in nature.

Smiling young woman 

16 Formed crowds where king is sitting down holding grand opening (8)

THRONGED :  THRONE(where king is sitting) + D(abbrev. for down, as in this clue, 16D) around(holding) G(initial,opening letter, of grand).

18 Unadorned country house hides gang’s contents (7)

VANILLA :  VILLA(country house) around(hides) AN(middle letters,contents of gang).  Defn:  Plain and simple.  Misnomer, surely, since it’s still flavoured with vanilla extract.

20 Knit initials in every new T-shirt with individual nametags equipped (7)

ENTWINE :  Starting letters(initials) of Every New T-shirt With Individual Nametags Equipped.

21 I object to non-drinker seizing the French spirit (6)

METTLE :  ME(the objective case of the pronoun I) + TT(tee-totaller,non-drinker) around(seizing) LE(French for the definite article, the).

24 Not able to make a list (4)

CANT :  Double defn:  1st:  With the apostrophe, contracted form of CANNOT,not able; and 2nd:  tilt,list.

6 Responses to “Financial Times 13695 PHSSTHPOK”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    Now there’s a blog and a half! Excellent.

    I’m glad you didn’t find it too easy either. I thought the last 4 or so were going to drive me mad! They were in the NE corner. I also had to look long and hard at 11a to realise it wasn’t politics or politico. And it started so gently! Well done, PHSSTHPOK.

    Incidentally, Paul/Punk/Mudd says on his website that he doesn’t quite “get” PHSSTHPOK’s name. Neither do I. Can anyone explain it?

  2. Thomas99 says:

    Now there’s a blog and a half! Excellent.

    I’m glad you didn’t find it too easy either. I thought the last 4 or so were going to drive me mad! They were in the NE corner. I also had to look long and hard at 11a to realise it wasn’t politics or politico. And it started so gently! Well done, PHSSTHPOK.

  3. Thomas99 says:

    Ah, how embarrassing – sorry. Didn’t mean to post that first version with the question but seem to have anyway. If anyone’s interested, PHSSTHPOK is the name of a character in Larry Niven’s sci-fi novel Protector (according to bestforpuzzles). Not sure if it has any specific relevance to crosswords.

  4. mike04 says:

    Thank you for a great blog, scchua.

    A game of two halves, as Thomas99 implies. After a quick start I struggled in the NE as well.
    In 1ac I went for SIGN UP (I blame “raised” in an across clue!) and then struggled in the NW.
    BTW, scchua, in the solution you’ve changed SIGN IN to SIGN ON!

    Thank you for a great solve, Phssthpok.

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks mike04, corrected now.

  6. tony welsh says:

    I too had trouble in NE.

    Re. 4d it seems to me that the ice is wearing the notable!

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