Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1212: Dicta by Phi

Posted by HolyGhost on January 25th, 2012


Down answers are ‘affected’ before entry; Across clues are ‘affected’ before solving.
Either I got lucky, or this was easy (or both).

Started with the down clues, as they are normal – solved about a third, but of course couldn’t enter anything. Onto the acrosses, having suitably ‘blurred’ my mind – ELUSIVE seemed possible for 14a with a simple negation of the definition (“easily” → “not easily”), then AUGER for 20a (“silver” → “gold”), and the anagram at 21a had to be NEONATOLOGY (“geriatrics” → its opposite). These, together with ASTROTOURISTS for 8d and YEREVAN for 9d, strongly suggested that the Down answers had to be entered upwards and the Across clues had to be changed by using some sort of opposite or alternative, and so it proved.

Having entered my down answers appropriately, I restarted with the across clues and the top half was pretty much filled on the first pass (including SONDHEIM at 19a), along with quite a bit of the bottom. The fact that the unclued 30a and 3d were near homophones allowed me to flesh out those entries and fairly confidently guess EVERYBODY RISE and EVERYBODY LIES – the former is from The Ladies who Lunch, featured in Sondheim’s Company, and the latter is a running theme in HOUSE, a medical drama on American TV.

A little bit of tidying up, and I was done. (In less time than it took Liverpool to draw at home yet again – this time to Stoke. Pah!)

{With such hubris, I could well expect someone to point out I’ve made a mistake somewhere.}

No. Answer Correction
to clue
1 PRUSSIANISM West → East RUSSIAN (East European) + IS in PM (afternoon)
11 MAYENNE Chinese → Japanese MANE (shock {of hair}) around YEN (Japanese money)
{department in northwest France}
13 TUAN one ↔ barrel TUN (barrel) around A (one)
14 ELUSIVE easily → not easily E(nergy) + LUS(t) (appetite) + I’VE (I have)
15 MARLINE-SPIKES rods → lines MAR (damage) + LINES + PIKES (staffs)
17 TREYS pairs → trios RE (about) replaces O (nothing) in TOYS (sports)
18 RARE common → uncommon (popula)R ARE(a)
19 SONDHEIM …   …   …   …   …    See preamble
20 AUGER silver → gold GER(man) after AU (gold)
21 NEONATOLOGY geriatrics → newly born [TO ONLY ONE AG(e)]*
23 TAUBE article ↔ pipe TUBE (pipe) around A (article)
24 SEED TIME harvest → sowing season SEE (observe) + DIME (little US money) around T(ons)
27 NIXY everything → nothing NIX (nothing) + (insensibilit)Y
28 GOFER accepting → rejecting GOLFER (sportsman) − L(arge)
30 EVERYBODY RISE …   …   …   …   …    See preamble
33 IAPETUS Neptune → Saturn [SPACESUIT]* − S(ulphur) & C(arbon)
34 CHAV cultured → uncultured CH(urch) + AV (Authorized Version, edition of Bible)
35 PRESS ON stop → continue PRESS (newspapers) + ON (operating)
36 VECTOGRAPHS opening → closing [GOT CHAPS VERY]* − (galler)Y
No. Answer Wordplay
1 MUMP …   …   …   …   …    MUMP(s) (disease)
2 RADAR …   …   …   …   …    RAD (radical, excellent) + AIR (for planes) − I (one)
3 EVERYBODY LIES …   …   …   …   …    See preamble
4 INNS …   …   …   …   …    IN (popular) + NS (North South, bridge team)
5 ERNANI …   …   …   …   …    (mod)ERN ANI(mation)
{Verdi opera}
6 MUSLIN …   …   …   …   …    MUS(t) (has to) + LIN(e) (provide inner layer)
7 LAMPUKI …   …   …   …   …    UK (European country) + I (one) after LAMP (light)
8 ASTROTOURISTS …   …   …   …   …    [I SORT OUT STARS]*
9 YEREVAN …   …   …   …   …    Y (unknown) + ERE (before) + VAN (leading position)
{capital of Armenia}
10 REPRESENT …   …   …   …   …    REP (repertory, theatre) + RESENT (to hold grudge {answer to 25})
12 NERVY …   …   …   …   …    ER (Emergency Room, US hospital show) + V (vide, see) in NY (New York, US city)
16 ONE-TIME …   …   …   …   …    ONE TIME (T, “latter” minus “later”)
17 SCIENTIST …   …   …   …   …    SCENT (slight indication) + IS around I (one) − T(ense)
21 SHAVIAN …   …   …   …   …    SH (quiet) + AVIAN (regarding birds)
22 CITY MEN …   …   …   …   …    CIT(e) (mention) + YEN (longing) around M(oney)
24 TSUBAS …   …   …   …   …    SA (sex appeal, it) + BUST (broken) rev.
25 GRUDGE …   …   …   …   …    RUDGE (Dickens hero) + after G(ood)
26 SCI-FI …   …   …   …   …    (spec)IFICS (details) rev.
29 HOUSE …   …   …   …   …    See preamble
31 RELY …   …   …   …   …    REALLY (honestly) − A & L (pound)
32 SNYE …   …   …   …   …    YE (you, archaic) after SN (tin)
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8 Responses to “Inquisitor 1212: Dicta by Phi”

  1. Hi of hihoba says:

    I, too, finished it relatively quickly, though I found the reversed down entries first via ASTROTOURISTS and AUGER before I realised the across “lies”. My only gripe is that my understanding of “homophone” does not agree with the rubric’s. Homophones sound the same but are spelled differently. This was a rhyme and not even close to a homophone – unless you are “Chirese” as Benny Hill used to say.

  2. Jake says:

    This puzzle was rather fine- A OK! Proving a point here, that this (level) was an enjoyment to solve without having to purposely be so difficult that there becomes a point where the fun rapidly disappears, or trudging through dictionaries hoping for a weird word find, just to move on to the next trudging blah, blah, blah…

    Thanks for the blog Holy Ghost and to Phi. This was one style of puzzle I shall not forget soon!

    Great stuff.

  3. RatkojaRiku says:

    I would wholeheartedly agree with Jake on this one: for me, this was the perfect level of difficulty, offering the challenge and extra stimulation of a barred puzzle with a twist, but without all the laborious trawling through dictionaries out of desperation for “something that fits”. As such, a big thank-you to Phi (and Nimrod) for this one.

    As it happens, I did use Google to confirm the thematic elements, since Sondheim’s Company and Dr House were not really on my cultural radar, but most of the actual entries I was able to figure out for myself thnaks to the tight wordplay and then simply double-check in Chambers.

    My gateway clues were 35 and 31. I realised that the wordplay to 35 gave PRESS ON, which seemed to mean the opposite of the definition “stop”. This got me thinking about antonyms, but having the solver make some corrections that were factual in nature (e.g. East for West in 1A and Saturn for Neptune in 33)rather than purely linguistic seemed to me to be an original idea, and definitely a welcome break from misprints and extra words. I hope other setters will be inspired to follow suit.

    Having then solved the clue at 31, I saw that the only way of getting 35 and 31 to intersect was to invert 31, and having solved a few more clues, I could see that all down entries would have to be entered in this way. In fact, for some clues, where inversion was part of the wordplay as well as the method of entry, this was rather tricky, e.g. at 24D and 26.

    @ Hi of hihoba: I see your point about rhyme rather than homophone in the preamble, although in all fairness to Phi, I suppose it does say “near-homophone”.

  4. Hi of hihoba says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the crossword, but must have another word about “near homophones”. I think words are either homophones or are not. So horse and hoarse are homophones, but horse, norse, morse and force are not! It’s like being a little bit pregnant, or very unique; there aren’t degrees of “homophoneness”. (Nor is there such a word!)

  5. HolyGhost says:

    Homophones: As I wrote in my blog on 1142 (Jeffrey by Loda, where thematic entries were homophones of the definition-only answers), Chambers respells CAUGHT as köt, but COURT as kört; and FORT as fört, but FOUGHT as föt. I suppose these might be considered as examples of “near homophones”.

  6. Hi of hihoba says:

    I agree with your interpretation, but I must say that I would be hard pressed to distinguish by ear between caught and court or indeed between fort and fought. Indeed in the appendix Chambers says ör can be pronounced the same as ö. So true homophones after all?

  7. HolyGhost says:

    I agree with Hihoba that I would have difficulty distinguishing them aurally without other contextual clues, but I definitely pronounce them with a slight difference, as I do with the preposition “for” and the number “four”. Maybe it’s my Lancastrian upbringing.

  8. Hi of hihoba says:

    My flat Midland vowels make no distinction!

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