Never knowingly undersolved.


Posted by John on January 13th, 2012


Unusually difficult for Phi today, I thought: on my first pass I solved far fewer clues than usual. Perhaps this was the result of my incompetence but one factor was the number of words that were defined in a slightly offbeat way.

And there were some words that I didn’t know (numismatologist rather than numismatist, agitpop, baryonic) and still one clue whose parsing defeats me.

1 SALMONELLA — (on all meals)*
7 DUB — I can’t see this at all, beyond the fact that to dub is to add words to: perhaps there is a silent movie of the form _dub, although I can’t think what. Certainly there is no word _dub — perhaps there is another meaning of the word dub of which I am unaware. [Add words to silent movie (initially absent)]
10 A V(I)AT OR
11 REAL ALE — rea{d} (El Al)rev.
12 YOUTH — out in {ma}yh{em}
15 NUMISMATOLOGIST — CD — one who studies worldwide change i.e. coins from all over the world
18 CIRCADIAN RHYTHM — (din charity match)*, although ‘disturbed by’ (which of course makes for a good surface) seems a bit odd when it’s really ‘disturbed’ [Body clock disturbed by din associated with charity match]
21 MIDNIGHT — (ind)rev. in might
25 G RAP PLE{a}
26 INFERNO — we should infer ‘no’ when a politician won’t say ‘yes’, but what is the significance of the politician?
27 CO{B}S
28 PITCH B(L)ACK — Chambers calls an arena ‘any sphere of action’, so it could be a cricket pitch or a market trader’s pitch
3 MATCHES — 2 defs
4 NERD — {o}ne (Dr)rev., although is a nerd a technical expert? Chambers only says that he is often knowledgeable despite his social inadequacy
5 L({t}ORNADO)ONE — this novel
6 A(JA)C C(I)O — the capital of Corsica
8 BL(EA)T — not the first time I’ve met BLT (bacon-lettuce-tomato) for sandwich
9 BAR YON I C{onstruct} — that = yonder = yon — a baryon is a heavy subatomic particle
14 BANISHMENT — (B man in the s)*
19 A G (IT) POP — the wordplay was so transparent that I got it immediately despite not knowing the word, which doesn’t seem to be in the dictionaries but presumably refers to the sort of pop music approved by the authorities in communist states, although Google says that it’s an art punk band from New York
20 HATEFUL — hat (fuel)*
21 MAG{net}IC
23 L{ad}Y RIC{h}
24 F{I n}ISH — fish = customer I suppose because of the idea of hooking fish and hooking customers

17 Responses to “Independent7877/Phi”

  1. Querulous says:

    Re dub, it’s DUMB (silent) with M (movie initially) absent.

  2. sidey says:

    Agitpop has made it into Collins

    I agree that this was more difficult than usual for Phi. I can’t actually see why though.

  3. Allan_C says:

    I suspect AGITPOP is a coinage derived from ‘agitprop’. Maybe Phi is referring to said art punk band and using ‘political’ to put us in mind of agitprop as a pointer to the answer – although a question mark might have been appropriate in that case.

    Some lovely clues elsewhere, though, including CIRCADIAN RHYTHM, BARYONIC and MAGIC, the sort where you don’t appreciate the clue fully till you’ve put the answer in and then after looking at it for a few seconds you realise just how well constructed the clue was.

    Thanks, Phi and John; also Querulous for explaining DUB – I didn’t fathom it either.

  4. Allan_C says:

    Sorry, sidey, I should have looked in the dictionary first – my dead tree Collins (2006) has AGITPOP. So most of my comment on it is superfluous.

  5. Cumbrian says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle but I struggled to finish. I wasn’t at all convinced by FISH for “Customer”, but maybe that’s due to my previous life, which also had me questioning NERD as “technical expert”, nerd being a derogatory term for someone who doesn’t have any horizons beyond his chosen technical interest (in which he may be the only person who thinks he’s an expert) and without the social skills to interact with non-nerds, or even geeks. A Technical Expert is a “Techie”, or a “Consultant” when his or her services are being charged out to a Customer (as opposed to a fish).

    Some lovely clues, and many thanks for the blog as my blinkers were firmly in place, particularly in 16d where I got MERIDIANS okay, but couldn’t parse it as I was fixed on the idea of the statistical quantities being medians, not means. Duh.

    Favourites were 15a and 20d, and I liked 26a where maybe Politicians were thrown in as they never give a straight answer; but then when they don’t say “yes”, do you infer “maybe”? (Favourite political interview of all time – Wogan posed a long and rambling question to Norman Tebbit and sat back for the response. Tebbit simply said “No”.)

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, John. You can put me in the ‘more difficult than usual’ camp as well. I struggled on the two long acrosses, which didn’t help, but NUMISMATOLOGIST is a very clever clue. How could I not parse DUB? As Querulous explains, it’s staring you in the face (which is what makes it another clever clue, I suppose). Plenty of other good stuff elsewhere too; thank you to Phi.

  7. nmsindy says:

    I too found this tough for a Phi. FISH took me a while – when I eventually got it, I interpreted it in a slightly different way to the above ie that both fish and customer could mean a person often in phrases, eg ugly customer, queer fish, but not 100% sure at all.

    Enjoyed the puzzle, thanks Phi and John.

  8. flashling says:

    Wasn’t overly happy about fish (and it’s new homonym phish for conning customers). Circadian rythym by far my last in and only solved by working out the anagram – the phrase meant nothing to me.

    Cheers John/Phi – a bit easier than yesterday anyway.

  9. Phi says:

    I tend to think of nerds in techie terms rather than social inadequacy. Geeks don’t strike me as terribly socially engaged either, though I guess the rise of things like ‘geek chic’ and the greater prominence of people like Gates and Jobs (what is it with these plural surnames? Still, Jobs did rely on someone called Ive) have made geeks more acceptable than mere nerds (let alone dweebs).
    Anyway, all this is merely prefatory to challenging you to find a rather nerdy ghost theme…

  10. Allan_C says:

    Could the theme be REAL ALE? A bit of googling turns up AVIATOR and MIDNIGHT as names of real ales, and i guess a few more might be there in the grid.

  11. bertandjoyce says:

    After yesterday’s Nimrod, we decided that we ought to start the crossword earlier than usual. This seemed harder than the average Phi, so glad we did!

    Allan_C you beat us to it! We were checking Inferno, Pitch Black, Midnight and Magic. Maybe more!

    Didn’t really like fish…. is this perhaps linked to the theme?

    Thanks John and Phi.

  12. Dormouse says:

    Incidentally, at least in my dead tree edtion, 18a ends “charity march” not “match” which makes the anagram work.

  13. flashling says:

    @Dormouse seems Eimi pays a bit more attention to dead tree most of the time. Or as I’ve not looked on line, it could just be a typo by John. Still don’t quite see the ghost looking for real ales as Phi is based in NZ and UK (ish) real ales are going to be well known or at all there.

  14. Allan_C says:

    flashling @13: As I recall it was “march” online as well. And I think you must have meant “not going to be well known…” – not that I necessarily agree with you re the ghost theme.

  15. Phi says:

    I did say to eimi that this would be one I’d be astonished if anyone got. But I couldn’t let everyone else have their fun with pop groups and not join in: so Salmonella Dub, Midnight Youth, Pitch Black and Circadian Rhythm(s) are all NZ pop groups. I can’t honestly say I pay enough attention to the ‘scene’ to say whether they are all current, but SD did a gig with the NZSO a couple of years ago, and there were posters up for a MY tour just before last Christmas. The one current NZ group that claims to be ‘internationally known’ is an outfit called Fat Freddy’s Drop, though I do sometimes wonder whether that merely means they had a hit in Oz.

    Quite a few UK beers do make it over here, btw, though there’s a thriving local industry as well.

  16. pennes says:

    I got fish with the crossing letters and clue but still a bit puzzled about the answer. And re 22ac I can’t get “to carry weight” to mean tell. This was my last to go in.
    Apart from those I enjoyed this

  17. Allan_C says:

    Pennes@16: An argument can be said to carry weight or to be telling; both mean (roughly) the same thing.

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