Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,427 – Paul

Posted by Andrew on September 14th, 2011


I found it quite hard to get started on this one, and things didn’t get much easier even after getting a few answers in. There are two themes, based on 9+16ac and on 16ac alone, plus one answer linked to 9ac. The 9/16 theme is not my area of expertise at all, but two of the names were very familiar, the other slightly less so. I particularly liked 22ac and 27ac, both of which have Paul’s typical cheekiness in their surfaces concealing a completely innocent cryptic structure.

1. ALTAIR ALT (key on computer keyboard) + AIR (broadcast). Altair is a star in the constellation Aquila.
4. SLAP-UP LAP in SUP, nicely indicated with the triple use of “drink”
9. ROCK Double definition
10. KURT COBAIN (BACK IN TOUR)*. Lead singer of Nirvana, who committed suicide in 1994.
12. CULLINAN CULL + I + NAN. The Cullinan Diamond, aka the Star of Africa, is “the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g)”.
13. MOUSETRAP OM reversed + USE (=milk, take advantage of) + PART reversed. “Mousetrap” is (used to be?) a name for generic low-quality cheese
15,16dn. GENE SIMMONS (IMMENSE SNOG)*. Bassist and singer of the band Kiss.
16. STAR Reverse of RATS! (=I’m upset!)
17. HALF TERMS F in HALTER + reverse of S+M
24. POSITIONED SIT + I (put bottom on top of Items) + ONE, all in POD (case)
26. SIRIUS S[creen] + U in IRIS. Sirius, ak the Dog Star, is the brightest star in the night sky
27. REALLY [petit]E (derriere = behind = last letter) in RALLY (series of shots)
1. AVOCADO A + V + CAD in [g]OO[d]
2. TOKEN OK in TEN (round number)
3. INK-BLOT K in I NB (Nota Bene = note well) + LOT. Refers to the highly dubious Rorschach ink-blot test.
5. LOCALE CO in EL AL, all reversed
6. PUBLIC EYE (CLUE BY P[aul] I.E.)*. Someone in the public eye is recognised.
7. PRIMATE RIM (=edge, boundary) in (“punching”) PATE
18,19. FREDDIE MERCURY F (=forte=strong) + RED (bloody) + DIE (item that is cast) + MERCURY (metal). The lead singer of Queen, who died in 1991 and was recently honoured by Google on what would have been his 65th birthday.
20. MILIEU I in MILE + U (posh)
23. RIGEL RI (Rhode Island) + GEL (set). Rigel is in the constellation Orion.

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,427 – Paul”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew, and Paul. This was a good test, for an hour,with outside help only needed at the very end: my ‘cullidam’ was no rock, but a search for it threw up the right answer for 12a. Lots of nice and naughty clues, 27a very cheeky.

  2. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew. I agree this was quite tough. I guessed GENE SIMMONS once I had the crossing letters for his surname, but didn’t know of him, unlike the other two 9,16s.

    Thanks for the Freddie Mercury Google link, which I’ve just sent on to my daughter, who shares my enthusiasm.

    You have an amusing typo in your explanation of 27ac :)

  3. Andrew says:

    Oops, thanks Stella, now corrected.

  4. Thomas99 says:

    That’s 2 Gene Simmonses in a fortnight! An interesting insight into Guardian setters’ tastes. Those Biggles meetings must be noisier than we thought. I wonder if they set in full make-up.

  5. Robi says:

    Good, but testing, puzzle; it makes a change from opera.

    Thanks, Andrew; I needed your help in parsing MOUSETRAP (never heard of this for a cheese), POSITIONED and PUBLIC EYE. I was surprised to learn that Kiss ‘has been awarded 24 gold albums to date, the most of any American rock band;’ I didn’t know GENE SIMMONS. ALTAIR took ages to find; I got nicely misled again by the computer ‘key.’

    I tried ‘solidified’ in 24 before PROCLAMATIONS was solved, and thought the navels in 21 were oranges! Bound=RIM looks a bit of a stretch to me, although no doubt RCW will say it is an allusion. Otherwise, can anyone give me a sentence with bound=rim for me to understand?

  6. crypticsue says:

    a very fine test of the cryptic grey matter – some of the pennies took ages to drop. I had to look up who were the 16a’s in 15/16 but got the other 16s on my own. Thanks to Paul for a proper challenge and to Andrew for the blog – not sure I would have wanted to tackle explaining this one.

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, took me ages to get properly started, too. I had only about 6 answers, until I cracked the anagram at 10a (thought it might be KING CANUTE for a while). It was the B from “PUBLIC TIP” (for RUBBISH) that gave it to me, but the TIP, of course, interfered with GENE SIMMONS, whom I had to look up. Eventually sorted it out.

    I, too, Robi, had SOLIDIFIED.

    Reasonably enjoyable in the end.

  8. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew and Paul

    This one was too tough for me. Didn’t get 8d PROCLAMATIONS, though it is obvious when I see it, because I entered SOLIDIFIED for 24a. No logical reason for SOLIDIFIED so a major error on my part. This also stopped me getting 12a CULLINAN.

    A very nice puzzle with some great clues.

  9. jackkt says:

    Gave up once I’d established the theme was one I know nothing about (never even heard of Freddie Mercury until the day he died). I’ll crawl back under my stone and hope for a return to normal tomorrow.

  10. Orlando says:

    Too many too obscure to really enjoy – since when has scarifying been equated with destroying?

  11. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Paul for a challenging puzzle and Andrew for explaining it all.

    I found this much harder than last weekend’s prize puzzle!

    I knew scarifying from gardening references but hope not to destroy the soil in the process! However, Chambers applies it to roads, too, where you would be destroying the surface.

    Simmons fell readily but I am more familiar with Jean, which wouldn’t fit, of course.

    A nice use of the rock and star themes.


  12. Tom Hutton says:

    Robi@6: I assume he must be using bound as in out of bounds, i.e a rim of an area but I think it is very thin if that is it. I am with Orland@10 on the matter of scarifying. It doesn’t have much too with earth at all. It has to do with grass.

    I must say that, unlike many other contributors to this page,I find Paul’s juvenile vulgarity very wearing and I am almost getting to the stage where I shall give his crosswords a miss. This would be a pity as he is, when he is not being too obscure and allusive, a setter whose crosswords I enjoy otherwise very much.

  13. Cosafina says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, though it took me a while to get going. Last in was 14, since I’d never heard of scarify in this context. However it’s there in the Free Dictionary at definition 2.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I enjoyed this very much! re 9,16 I saw ROCK straight away, then took ages to get STAR (and I didn’t fully understand the wordplay until I came here.) MOUSETRAP was my last one in. ALTAIR puzzled me for ages, too, until I realised that I had my 9s and 16s the wrong way round — was trying to think of a *rock* that ended TAIR :-)

    I have heard of Kiss, but not Gene Simmons — I guessed Simmons, confirmed with the check button, then worked out the rest.

    Sometimes I do find Paul’s schoolboy humour wearing, but 27ac *really* made me smile today.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Much better Paul product – I agree with Gio’s (@11)view on comparison with prize puzzle.
    We frequently see the synonyms rim, edge, hem for limit so it is more than an allusion to use bound which is defined (Chambers) as limit (Robi @5).
    I thoroughly enjoyed this one, it kept me thinking for quite a while after two cups of coffee, in fact until after I had prepared lunch. Well done Paul.
    I struggled with 26ac because I stubbornly stuck to my own (wrong) spelling of ‘Syrius’ and only discovered my error on checking in Chambers.
    I liked 10ac particularly.

  16. Trebor says:

    I am usually Paul’s number 1 fan but agree with Orlando that this was a grind. Very unusual for Paul to use so many (I would argue 6) obscure words.
    I agree 27ac was very good.

  17. William says:

    Thank you, Andrew, certainly needed you for this little lot.

    I tend to get a bit disheartened when I have to write in answers that I can’t really parse.

    Some very good clues, including REALLY, but some strange ones, too. Don’t see what SCARIFY has to do with DESTROY, and I found the PUBLIC EYE anagram too strained for it to be any fun.

    MILK = USE is a bit of a struggle too, isn’t it?

    CULLINAN was too hard for me and I had to Google it.

    Thank you, Paul, I usually enjoys yours, but not today.

  18. RCWhiting says:

    To define scarifier as “Earth’s destroyer” (not just destroyer) seems to me to verge on the too obvious; certainly more than an allusion !

  19. MattD says:

    There’s two themes here that I could really enjoy. Massive aha moments when I got Rigel then star then rock then freddie mercury. Was hard, but rewarding. Thank you Paul.

  20. wingates says:

    Tom Hutton@12: Nice to learn I’m not alone: have always hesitated to express my views here for fear of upsetting the fan club but I gave up on Paul puzzles a long time ago for the reason you state. Still read the blogs occasionally to see whether he’s grown up yet. Evidently not.

  21. dave says:

    I have to confess that I mispelled Rigel as Rigal, but it still worked as a solution since RIG = getting set, and ALabama is a perfectly good US State.

  22. duncan says:

    “scarifier” was the new word for me today; I’m embarrassed to admit that I got the face-painted, long-tongued ex-of-cher almost instantly, & took rather longer over the rest. but then I am too a bass player.

  23. Stella Heath says:

    The mixed bag of responses seems to sum up this puzzle as challenging, not to everyone’s liking – no accounting for taste – but definitely good.

    Smut has become an unfortunate feature of Btitish humour in recent years, as far as I can tell from Spain, but Paul’s slight excursions into the risqué can hardly be described as such, and usually produce a smile.

    Not everyone is a rock fan, but then not everyone likes opera, or G&S, or punk, but most of us have heard of the people referenced here – it’s not as though I had to go on a journey of discovery to find the themed answers, as sometimes happens.

    I find myself increasingly sympathetic towards Mr(s?) Whiting who, with all the grouse about “too easy” puzzles, is scrupulously fair when encountering a bit of a challenge.

    I’m now going to carry on watching “The spy who came in from the cold”, with Richard Burton – I always thought the main role was played by Alec Guinness; maybe that’s a more recent version ?

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks for sympathy, I am a Mr.,not that it is relevant.
    Sorry I must disagree with:
    “Smut has become an unfortunate feature of Btitish humour in recent years”
    by simply quoting Max Miller and Carry On films.
    Smut is an issue which will never affect my view of a puzzle as long as it is not easy smut!
    Objectors should try Cyclops in The Eye and stand back for an attack of the vapours.

  25. ACP says:

    It’s amusing that many found the rock star theme a little tricky.
    For me, I struggle with all the operatic and poet themes and found this puzzle so much easier.
    If I could ask Paul to do a Teletubbie themed puzzle ? That’d be even better.

  26. Uncle Yap says:

    22A is my COD ….. topless to show boobs. Risque with great taste. Classic Paul

  27. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Andrew for explaining Cullinan. I guessed and looked it up in the dictionary, not there, so abandoned the idea not believing it to be a word.

  28. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Paul

    Only finished this this morning (except for Cullinan which escaped me). Agree with UY re 22a.
    Very hard and and, for my aging sins, I was not at all at home with the rock star theme. Got but failed to understand 16a.

  29. RCWhiting says:

    I am pretty ancient (more the latter than the former) but knew KC, someonewho is probably more famous for his death than his life; and FM who was probably one of the most famous people in the world when he died.
    Although I didn’t know GS the HM group Kiss was familiar so it was easy to check their line-up.

  30. matt says:

    Good puzzle. Had me beaten on public transport for a couple of clues (cullinan, altair, avocado (for some reason)), but the internet came to my rescue once home.
    I like the twinkle in Paul’s eye. If the sauce were crowbarred into every other clue (see cyclops), or even every puzzle, then it might get a bit overwhelming, but here and there it adds to the flavour.
    Thanks Paul, thanks Andrew.
    PS: rim and scarifier both fine, to me.

  31. Sylvia says:

    I entered ‘rigid’ for 23d (set) so was stuck on 27a

  32. Huw Powell says:

    This was fun! Thanks Andrew for explaining the couple I didn’t get, and Paul for the wry and amusing romp. Had ROCK early, and a few other words, when RIGEL popped out at me I had to smile and fill in STAR. More smiles with the clues that appeared cheeky on the surface.

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