Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7848 (Sat 10-Dec-2011) by Nimrod

Posted by beermagnet on December 17th, 2011

beermagnet.

After the usual gulp upon seeing Nimrod at the top of the Prize Puzzle when on blogging duty this turned out to be less evil than many of his puzzles – at least to get started.  The number of clues solved on first pass was into double figures (!) but that includes the wrong answers.  I spotted the Nina far too late for it to offer a lot of help – though it did allow me to find that pesky last answer (14).

Nina alert:
Circumference Top and Bottom: SENIOR MOMENT
Left and Right: STATLER WALDORF

Statler and Waldorf are the two old timers in the Muppet Show who sit in the theatre commenting and criticising proceedings from their box, I see they’re in the wings on this puzzle. I suppose they are both seniors and have their moments.

Is this a celebration of the return of the Muppets as recently reported?
How can they surpass the cinematic perfection that is “The Muppet Christmas Carol“? (Aside: Can’t be done.)

And apart from the obvious geriatric nature of those two, how does SENIOR MOMENT relate?
(I thought of a joke at this point but now I have forgotten it.)

Across
7 SIN TAX Rules on air that smoker will resent (3,3)
Homophone “Syntax” (rules on air) and &Lit.  I found this very difficult as I had never heard the phrase so this was one of the last answers to fall.  It is indeed a tax on naughtiness of various kinds
9 UNDERTOW Current, unforeseen new Tudor building … (8)
(NEW TUDOR)* AInd: building. First answer entered
10 TURN TAIL … which might be one if it does this run (4,4)
DD I think this is a Double Def. One is “run”, and the other some from “(Undertow) might … if it does this” but I’m having difficulty seeing it clearly. I have a strong suspicion there is wordplay I’m missing such as a reverse anagram of TAIL.
Thanks to RH in Comment 1: UNDERTOW becomes UNDER TWO when its tail is turned, which might be one.  Very significant and complex use of the ellipsis
11 ATAXIA Inability to coordinate actions of drinkers that were thrown out of cab? (6)
TAXI inside AA.  A bit more serious than a Senior Moment
12 AT STUD Used to breed domestic animals, yielding first in championships and No 2 – but not No 3 (2,4)
[c]ATS (domestic aminals yielding first) TU[r]D (No 2 – No 3) Little bit of lexical coprology entering the puzzle.  Not sure whether championships come into the wordplay or are there to enhance to def.
AC at Comment 3 points out that the’ first in Championships’ is the C
14 AASVOGEL Engine experts taking gloves off African flyer (8)
AA (Engine experts – Automobile Association) (GLOVES)* AInd: off. Last answer entered. This required a dictionary search.  These are South African vultures.  This word must be one for the Scrabble players who have just started memorising the dictionary.
15 THE END OF THE ROAD Work freehand to do the curtains (3,3,2,3,4)
(FREEHAND TO DO THE)* AInd: Work.
18 LANOLINE Fat revolutionary loves occupying bit on the side of Kent? (8)
(NIL O)<  loves, reversed inside LANE (ref. Lois LANE, Clark KENT)
20 TOMATO Love apple core to be spewed out by robots? (6)
Indirect hidden in auTOMATOns.  The central part of an Indirect reference.  Sneaky.
22 ERRANT Esther Rantzen’s straying! (6)
Hidden in EsthER RANTzen
23 ZERO HOUR Start of Operation Midnight? (4,4)
Double Def. (sort of?) 00:00 is the zero hour and O is first letter of Operation
25 ROAD SIGN Bearer of warning maybe so daring to violate (4,4)
(SO DARING)* AInd: to violate.
26 ITSELF The thing, I stress, is left for disposal (6)
(IS LEFT)* AInd: for disposal
Down
1 STUN Put out for the count? It would be mad to get up (4)
NUTS<
2 EXPANDED Relatively broad cross carried by old man over crates (8)
ENDED (over) contains (crates) X PA (cross and old man).  I like crates is a container indicator
3 NUCLEAR-FREE ZONE Disarming location? Nodding head in doubt on breaking ice (7-4,4)
UNCLEAR (doubt) with its head “nodding” – so its lead letter U nodding down a position. Then ON inside FREEZE
4 IDEALS Is about to trade 100%? 10 out out of 10? With capital, more would want these (6)
DEAL (to trade) inside IS, then a couple of examples of totality or perfection which are enough definition by example of ideals for me, but I do not understand what the last phrase contributes?
Thanks to RH in Comment 1:  With a capital, more is More ref. Thomas More who wrote Utopia and undoubtedly desired ideals.
5 ORGANOGRAM Visual basis for Dilbert’s action, or analysis of argon in school? (10)
OR (ARGON)* inside GAM (school in the sense of a group of whales) This turns out to be what I know of as a “management hierarchy diagram” much derided in Dilbert cartoons.  Warning! Further perusal of this site will lead to loss of many hours of your life!
6 ROTIFERA We look as though we’re going about a restoration of machinery or wheels (8)
A REFIT OR all reversed (RevInd: wheels) Brings back memories of studying pondlife.
8 INUIT Suddenly see timeless Arctic Circle (5)
IN[t]UIT Circle in the definition is a circle of people.
Initially, I confidently wrote in CIRCA from ARC[t]IC* AInd: circle, with the def from “suddenly see” by thinking suddenly is an abbreviation indicator, and “see” a homophone for C. Yes, I realise now that there is no homophone indicator. When I cold solved this I thought what a great clue and what a great bit of solving. Naturally, this held up the top left corner for a very long time.
13 TREMOLANDO A Merlot upset by drunken Don, quite shaky in the bar (10)
(A MERLOT)* AInd: upset. (DON)* AInd: drunken. A way of disguising you haven’t quite hit the right note.
16 HEADROOM Play up? (8)
Headroom being free area above your head so sort of “play” as in leeway “up” above.  Do we categorise this as a CD or an &Lit or simply a SOAC (Swine of a clue)
17 HOT-BRAIN He doesn’t think to resettle in Hobart (3-5)
(IN HOBART)* AInd: resettle. Yet another word I had to check, though the anagram was reasonably clear. Turns to be an obsolete version of hot-head
19 IN TRIM Where Giants made a Causeway with one-for-one fit (2,4)
ANTRIM with I for A Well worth a visit, especially on a non-windy day (rare) so you can have a go on the vertiginous rope bridge nearby – always been too windy when I’ve been there.
21 TRULL Lady of the Night at first royally entertained by Jethro (5)
R[oyally] inside TULL (Jethro of seed drill – and prog rock – fame) Another that needed looking up:  Link to Dictionary
24 HOST One who entertains a large group of people (4)
Double Def.

8 Responses to “Independent 7848 (Sat 10-Dec-2011) by Nimrod”

  1. Richard Heald says:

    Re 10Ac, ‘undertow’ with its tail turned leads to ‘under two’, i.e. one maybe.

    The last phrase in 4Dn is a cryptic reference to (Sir Thomas) More, author of Utopia.

    16Dn is definitely a CD, and a very nice one at that.

  2. Paul B says:

    Extremely evil indirect at 20.

  3. Allan_C says:

    In 12a I took “first in championships” to mean the letter C, although “in championships” is not really necessary to indicate removing the first letter of “cats”. It’s presumably there to add to the surface reading and divert one’s thoughts away from the true implication of “No 2 but not No 3″. It certainly did so for me; the answer “at stud” was obvious but I had no idea how the last three letters followed from the clue.

    Spotting the nina was helpful in getting 6d and, once I’d discovered the name of Waldorf’s companion, 18a. Btw Statler and Waldorf are also the names of two luxury hotels in the Big Apple – the latter more well known than the former I guess.

  4. Bamberger says:

    After an hour I gave up with only 3d,15a & 17d solved.

    Well done Beermagnet. This was totally out of my league.

    Never heard of ataxia, aasvogel, rotifera, termolando or trull.

  5. beermagnet says:

    Thanks for the clarifications folks. Particularly RH who cleared up most of the niggles in the dead of night.

    I meant to point out auTOMATOns was an “Indirect Hidden” and had marked it as my favourite clue for the great PDM it gave me on solving.

  6. flashling says:

    Got tomato fine but started late and gave up half way through, thanks BM for showing me the rest and JH for yet another fine fiendish puzzle.

  7. Cumbrian says:

    Some of this was too tough for me, but enjoyable overall. Never heard of ROTIFERA, but google reveals that they are commonly called “wheel animals”, and never heard of AASVOGEL either. No surprise there, but I wasn’t going to get it from the clue; describing the AA as “engine experts” is stretching things a bit too far in my experience (“No idea mate, could be anything. Have to get you towed to a garage. Tow truck’ll be here in a coupe of hours.”)

    I still don’t really get 4d, which seems to have too much information in the clue, and I couldn’t parse 12a – thanks for the explanation! I failed with 18a but having cheated it all made sense and was probably my favourite clue. If I’d persevered I might have got there, and it would have definitely been my favourite.

    Many thanks for the blog, and for a puzzle which was nice mix of simple(ish) and head-scratchers.

  8. redddevil says:

    Late comment as only just found and ‘finished’ this. I’m not sure how
    a) doubt = unclear (doubtful does but not doubt surely)
    b) stun = out for the count (the opposite if anything, i.e. just out momentarily)
    c) LANE = Kent’s bit on the side (Lois Lane loved Superman and so was HIS girlfriend and nobody’s bit on the side).

    Probably too late for anyone to read this comment now – why doesn’t this site work like a normal forum where you can ‘subscribe’ to discussions by commenting?

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