Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,971 / Dac

Posted by RatkojaRiku on May 2nd, 2012


It’s Wednesday today, and not the last Wednesday in the month, so it ought to be a Dac puzzle today, and indeed it is!

I struggled more with this one than I normally do with a Dac, and, mindful of Dac’s reputation for exquisite wordplay, I suspect that the problem today lay more with me than with him. In any case, despite my very best efforts, I just cannot sort out the wordplay at 7, and I may be barking up the wrong tree at 12, since I have parsed the “l” as “live”. Please set me straight so that I can update the blog later today – done, thanks!

The derivation at 16 was new to me – I only knew “jukebox” – and I hadn’t heard of the cinemas at 6 or of the weekly at 11. How useful a wider general knowledge would be to me in this solving and blogging game!

I wondered for a while if the completed grid would constitute a pangram, as indeed it would have but for the absence of a “v” – the “v” is there after all, although I failed to find it when scouring the grid in the early hours! My favourite clues today were 29, for its smooth surface and for transporting me from Scotland to Asia in the space of seven words; and 22, again for its surface and for transporting me, this time, back to my much-missed home town in West Yorkshire.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1   EAGLE   EA (=each) + G<o>L<f>E<r> (“oddly” means odd letters, i.e. 1st, 3rd, 5th, only are used); & lit., since an eagle is a score of two strokes below par in golf
4   FACE CARDS   Double definition: FACE (or picture) CARDS are “perhaps knaves”, i.e. jacks, in card games AND (more whimsically) “will soon get fired?”, i.e. face (being given one’s) cards
9   CONDITIONER   CONDITION (=state, as a noun) + ER (=ruler, i.e. Elizabeth Regina); the (cryptic) definition is “shock treatment”, where “shock” is a head of hair
10   TAU   A in TU (=workers’ group, i.e. trade union); definition: “character from Athens”, i.e. letter of Greek alphabet
11   TABLET   Double definition: a tablet is a type of computer (“PC”), while The Tablet is the international Catholic news “weekly”
13   REPORTED   *(TOPER) in RED (=claret, i.e. red wine); “drunken” is anagram indicator
15   BY ACCIDENT   *(BACCY) + I (=one) + DENT (=slight depression); “wacky” is anagram indicator
16   JUKE   UK (=country) in [J (=Jack, i.e. in cards) + E<nthusiastic> (“initially” means first letter only)]; to juke is a slang verb meaning to dance
19   ELLA   EL (=railway, i.e. elevated railroad) + L (=line) + A
20   QUINTUPLET   [TUP (PUT=place; “back” indicates reversal) in NL (=Holland, i.e. The Netherlands)] in QUIET (=still)
22   POMFRETS   OM (=order, i.e. Order of Merit) in [P<roprietor> (“at first” means first letter only) + FRETS (=worries)]; Pomfrets are the liquorice confection more commonly referred to as Pontefract (or Pomfret) cakes
23   TE DEUM   E (=note, i.e. in music) in *(MUTED); “strangely” is anagram indicator
25   PEN   Hidden (“shortened”) in “apPENdix”
26   OVER THE   MOON   Double definition: OVER THE MOON is “sent”, in raptures, delighted AND (more whimsically) “a long way into space”
28   WEALTH TAX   *(WALE<s> THAT) + X (=vote, i.e. a cross); “most of” means last letter is dropped; “affected” is anagram indicator
29   TIBET   [I + BE (=live)] in <sco>TT<ish> (“middle of” means central letters only)
1   EXCITABLE   IT in [EX (=old) + CABLE (=cabinet member, i.e. Vince Cable MP, the Business Secretary)]
2   GIN   G<a>IN (=proceeds, i.e. profits); “after declining a” means the letter “a” is dropped
3   EMINENCE   EMIN (=modern-day artist, i.e. Tracy Emin) + (h)’ENCE (=from (h)’ere”; the “h” is dropped in clue and answer alike)
4   FAIR   Homophone (“so we’re told”) of “fare” (=food)
5   CONCERNING   Double definition: CONCERNING is “worrying”, making anxious AND “about”, regarding, on the subject of
6   CURZON   CURZ (homophone – “reportedly” – of “curs” = dirty rotten scoundrels) + ON (=showing, i.e. at cinema); Curzon Cinemas are an independent chain of West End cinemas specialising in art-house films
7   RATATOUILLE   Definition: “film”, since Ratatouille is a 2007 American computer-animated comedy; [TA<u>TOU =French actress, forename Audrey; “non-U” means the letter “u” is dropped) in RAIL (=line)] + LE (=the French, i.e. the French word for the)
8   SQUAD   SQUA<she>D (=pressed, i.e. squeezed); “to release female (=she)” means the letters “she” are dropped
12   BEATLEMANIA   BE AT (=don’t miss) + LEMANIA (A1 (=top) + NAME (=star) + L (=live, on a plug); “doing the twist” indicates reversal)
14   ADJUSTMENT   [JUST (=honest) + MEN (=people)] in <b>A<n>D<i>T (“regularly” means alternate letters only)
17   ESTAMINET   *(MAIN ST<r>EET); “recipe (=R)” from” means the letter “r” is dropped from anagram; “refurbished” is anagram indicator
18   QUEEREST   QUEE<n> (=cat; “short” means last letter is dropped) + REST (=nap)
21   DRY OUT   DR (=doctor) + YOUT<h> (=youngster; “briefly” means last letter is dropped)
22   PAPAW   [P (=soft, i.e. piano in music) + A (=one)] in PAW (=hand)
24   STYX   Homophone (“you say”) of “sticks” (=stops moving); the River Styx connects Earth with the Underworld in Greek mythology
27   ORB   OR (=gold, in heraldry) + B (=black)

22 Responses to “Independent 7,971 / Dac”

  1. Miche says:

    Hi, RatkojaRiku

    7d: TA[U]TOU in RAIL (in line), preceding (to take lead) LE (the French)

  2. Miche says:

    Re 12d: I think it is L for “live”, as in the wiring of an electric plug.

  3. Miche says:

    PPS – It is a pangram. The V is at 26a.

  4. sidey says:

    If making a pangram was the excuse for including CURZON (so well known outside London) then I wish that compilers would not bother. Ruined an otherwise good puzzle.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku, for the blog and for outing yourself as another son of the north …

    I always look forward to a Dac puzzle, and I liked this one, but found it a challenge. CONDITIONER and QUINTUPLET were my favourite clues today. I would never have parsed RATATOUILLE, although I wasn’t held up with the solution once I had a few crossing letters.

    I’m not as grumpy as sidey about pangrams, but I am ambivalent about them. Sometimes I do think ‘clever, but what’s the point?’, but on the other hand it’s a challenge for the setter. And this morning I was left with ?U?E for 16ac, guessed that the first letter must be J, having already realised that it must be a pangram; and still stared at it for longer than I should have.

  6. Polly says:

    Sidey@4: there are Curzon cinemas around the country, even north of Watford. Any puzzle is likely to expose gaps in the solver’s knowledge, but that’s surely no reason for resentment. I’ve spent many happy hours trawling Chambers for previously unknown words and enjoying the eventual sense of triumph and/or surprise.

  7. anax says:

    Just a note on pangrams – they’re more useful than you think. For the setter it is of course an extra challenge, but there is a purpose behind it. If, as a solver, you begin to suspect a pangram, make a note of which letters have been used. Faced with the C-R-O- answer and the absence thus far of a Z in the grid it might help you!

  8. eimi says:

    I think Sidey must have got out of the wrong side of the bed today. ‘Ruined’ is rather an overreaction, but in defence of Dac, he can’t be accused of being London-centric as he’s a Lancastrian who lives in Yorkshire.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Another son of the north, then. We’ll be taking over the world soon.

  10. sidey says:

    Okay, ruined was possibly an over reaction. I still think my point stands, the clue says West End cinema after all. @anax, yes, I know that if you know that it’s a pangram you can go hunting for the missing letters but to a solver with a dead tree puzzle with no internet access there is no way to confirm that there is a Curzon cinema. And other places besides The Great Wen have West Ends too.

    It would be very interesting to find out how many solvers who don’t lurk here have ever noticed pangrams in daily puzzles. I’ve no idea how you could find out though.

  11. crypticsue says:

    Judging by the neatness of my writing, I don’t appear to have had many problems with this crossword (I have done 4 others since so my memory does tend to blur a bit. Thanks to Dac and RatkojaRiku.

    Sidey@ 10 – non-lurking solvers probably notice pangrams in daily puzzles but probably don’t know that’s what they are called!

  12. Thomas99 says:

    I can’t help wondering if Dac thought of cluing Curzon via the (once very famous) viceroy and thought he’d make it nice and easy for modern solvers with the cinema reference instead…

  13. Jean says:

    I got stuck on ‘Curzon’ as well. ‘Conditioner’ was tricky but my fault for not thinking of hair! A good puzzle nevertheless.

  14. Tees says:

    I think pangrams are useful too. Or even three. But I wonder how FEW letters one could use to set a 225? Is there a record for this, does anyone know, or care?

  15. Dormouse says:

    Didn’t spot it was a pangram, but it didn’t give me many problems. BEATLEMANIA I got eventually, but I couldn’t parse. Took me a while to see why TABLET was a PC – I knew it was a catholic paper. Find I can’t spell POMFRETS and the F looks like a P in my handwriting. And the last cinema I went to, about a year ago, was a Curzon.

  16. Wanderer says:

    Thanks RR and Dac, enjoyable puzzle and I too found it more difficult than normally from this setter.

    Thanks also to Miche for explaining RATATOUILLE — I had RAIL and LE, but thought non-U gave us the OU, leaving me with an inexplicable TAT…

    I wonder if there is a universally accepted definition of country? Certainly, if UN membership is the rule, TIBET is not one. But then by the same rules, nor are Scotland or Wales. Can anyone help? Country seems to me an unsatisfactory definition for TIBET but I’m not sure why.

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Wanderer, that’s an interesting question about countries. Kathryn’s just finishing her MA in Middle Eastern studies, so she might be in a position to talk about lines on maps …

    I think in crossword terms, the definition is more flexible than in strict usage, and I must say I put in TIBET this morning without further thought. And setters get away with clueing NI and ULSTER as being the same thing, which they’re not. Our friends across the pond often equate England with Great Britain/United Kingdom, which is also not true.

    So to answer your question: I’m not sure I have.

  18. eimi says:

    @16, it’s a moot point in crosswords. If Tibet was a country is it OK to define it as such, in the same way as Nero might be defined as a Roman emperor rather than as a former Roman emperor?

    I’m no expert but …

    if anyone needs cheering up on a bit of miserable May day, here’s someone else who’s no expert:

    His face during the introduction is pure comedy gold.

  19. nmsindy says:

    I too found it quite a bit harder than usual for Dac – enjoyable as ever. Trickiest ones that took me quite a while at the end – CONDITIONER and BEATLEMANIA. Thanks, Dac and RR.

  20. Wanderer says:

    Thanks K’s D and eimi @17 and 18 for your thoughts on country. Like you, K’s D, I put TIBET in without any difficulty, but I am now intrigued by whether there is an agreed definition. Eimi, I think you raise a very interesting question with ‘if Tibet was a country, is it OK to define it as such’. On reflection, I think it probably is, at least for me, and would allow all manner of intriguing possibilities such as Aragon, Navarre, Flanders, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and so on.

    I should add that this enhanced my enjoyment of the puzzle by sending me off on an enjoyable byway.

  21. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks to Miche for setting me straight on all the points raised in the intro to the blog. I searched high and low for the “v” but just couldn’t see for looking. That’s what comes of burning the midnight oil, I suppose.

    On 7, it all makes sense now it has been explained: I saw the reference to Audrey Tautou but just couldn’t sort out the “le” at the end of the word. I think the film itself is a tad obscure, nonetheless.

    On the pangram issue, suspecting this grid might be a pangram (even though I WRONGLY convinced myself that it wasn’t!) helped me with both 6 and 16, in much the way Anax describes. Obviously, an “uninitiated” solver would not know to look in the first place.

  22. NealH says:

    I remember the “Two Guys” stuff from a few years ago. What irked me afterwards was that he reputedly went on to become a millionaire – quite a nice reward for failing a job interview (which he did).

    Anyway I enjoyed this puzzle. It was mostly on the easy side but I had to do some hard thinking to work out the parsing of 12. I’ve seen Ratatouille and Amelie, so no problems with 7 down, although I did hesitate over whether juke was a word for dance or not.

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