Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1228: Characters by Shark

Posted by HolyGhost on May 16th, 2012


Quite a lot going here, and a grade 4 workout. Five works by x to be discovered …
Original letters in down misprinted definitions {novel} spell out the first. Replacing x‘s initials with other letters (leaving real words) leads to the next two – to be highlighted. A continuous line drawn through a symbol in the grid cryptically indicates the fourth; and the unclued entries are loosely defined by the fifth. Phew!

A brisk start in the top half allowed me to guess SYDNEY very early, but that soon petered out, and the bottom half looked decidedly sparse (apart from ZENANA, which strangely I knew). There was steady progress however, and about halfway through I’d solved enough down clues to hazard DRAMATIS PERSONAE from the misprinted letters. {At this point, I should say that I’d decided not to user an internet search engine, so D… P… didn’t help.} Also, I discovered that knowing the wrong letters isn’t nearly as useful as knowing the right ones in misprinted definitions.

The grid was filling up, and I’d guessed 7 of the 9 unclued entries, so I used the list of unchecked letters to get the rest. No link came to mind – just a bunch of male & female names, most of which could be either, but I suppose that the highlighting signified ‘pink for a girl, blue for a boy’. I dwelt on this for quite a while, then returned to the last couple of unsolved clues. CITIFY was the answer to one of them, and finally (finally!) I noticed that the five-character entry at 5d came from a seven-letter answer: so, RIBBAND it was, to be entered as RIBB&.

Coming back refreshed after a pre-lunch walk on Sunday, I scanned the weekend papers for significant anniversaries (to no avail) and then took The Oxford Companion to Eng.Lit. from the shelf to look up Dramatis Personae – and there it was, a collection of poems by Robert Browning; Chambers Biographical Dictionary informed me he was born on 07-May-1812, so Monday would be the bicentenary of his birth – the clincher. Men & Women and The Ring & the Book were two key works, and the former “loosely defined the unclued entries”; I put the latter on hold, and scanned RB’s entry in OCEL: SORDELLO jumped out (changing the B in BORDELLO) and then I spotted JOCOSERIA which would fit in the top row (changing an R in SERRATES). So, back to The Ring & the Book: starting from the “&” of 5d we can draw a ring clockwise through & THE BOOK. And we’re done.

What to make of “Characters”, the puzzle’s title? I’d noticed some time back that included in the grid were not only all the letters of the alphabet, but also the ampersand. I recalled from solving the recent puzzle by Hypnos (IQ 1222 “Joiner”) that in the past the alphabet would be recited as “A, B, C, …, X, Y, Z, and per se and“; so here we have a super-pangram. {Is that it?}

Great stuff from Shark, and hearty congrats. to him for his first Listener at the end of March.

No. Answer …             …            …             … Wordplay
1 JOCO …             …            …             … JOC(k) (Scot) + O(ld)
4 SERRATES …             …            …             … [ARRESTS]* around E(uropean)
8 ARARS …             …            …             … (realg)AR ARS(enic) &Lit.
10 IGNOMY …             …            …             … [WYOMING]* − W(ife)
11 CITIFY …             …            …             … CLASSIFY (sort) with IT for LASS (young lady)
12 BALLAD …             …            …             … BALL (dance) + AD (public notice)
13 BULB …             …            …             … BLUB (cry) rev.
14 SABIN …             …            …             … double definition
{ref.: Albert Sabin, developer of oral polio vaccine}
16 IN MILK …             …            …             … INK (black liquid) around MIL(lilitre)
18 TIL OIL …             …            …             … TOIL (work) around IL (the, Italian)
20 PASEO …             …            …             … PAS(t) (ended) + EO (game)
21 MEHNDI …             …            …             … H(ard) in [DENIM]*
25 ESSENE …             …            …             … ESSENCE (spirit) − C(onvulse)
27 SODAS …             …            …             … SAD (sober) + OS (outsize, very large) rev.
28 ETCH …             …            …             … (f)ETCH (ghost, archaic)
30 SYLVAN …             …            …             … SYLVIA (warbler) − I(ndependence) + N(ight)
31 AXILLA …             …            …             … AX (cut, N Am) + ILL (badly) + A
32 ICE RUN …             …            …             … (off)ICER UN(covers)
33 QUOIN …             …            …             … QU(estion) + [IRON]* − R (recipe, take)
No. Answer Definition Misprint Wordplay
2 ORIENT once rising D O(ver) + T(horoughbred) after [REIN]*
3 ORIBI buck in South Africa R BIRO (Hungarian designer) rev. + I(taly)
5 RIBBAND strip A RIB (bone) + BAND (finger-ring)
6 ANLAGEN primordia in nature M [ALGAE (a)N(d) N(uclear)]*
7 E-MAIL message A E(nergy) + MAIL (spot, Scot)
9 ATOMISED sprayed T A(bout) + TOM (cat) + [DIES]*
14 SETHS in India, wealthy chaps I SET (staked) + HS (Home Secretary)
15 BORDELLO dell, perhaps, in here
17 LOOKS sees P LOO (toilet) + K(now)S
19 LE HAVRE French port E LEAVE (go) around H(otel) around (fai)R
20 PASSIM high and low R PASS (cross) + I’M (I am)
22 INULIN compound found in root S INSULIN (drug) − S(ulphur)
23 ZENANA girls in this private Iranian room O NANA (idiot) after Z (unknown) + E(lectronic)
24 BENNI seed N BENIN (African country) with I(nternational) later
26 SHIUR stint studying the Talmud A [RUSH]* around I (one)
29 TAWT in Scotland, mat E W(omen) in TAT (shabby clothes)
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3 Responses to “Inquisitor 1228: Characters by Shark”

  1. John Lowe says:

    I was curious about the unclued names in Pink and Blue, and looked them up in the appendix of Chambers:

    Jackie is a diminutive of both John m and Jacqueline f
    Sydney m and f from the surname
    Kim m and f shortening of Irish Kimball, orig a surname, or of Kimberley
    Terry m and f a diminutive of Terence, Teresa, also (m) from the surname
    Rana m and f (Ar) beautiful object

    Eryl m and f (Welsh) Watcher
    Lee m and f from the surname
    Joyce f formerly m (Celtic) Lord
    Meredith m and f (Welsh) an anglicisation of Maredudd of uncertain meaning or from the surname

    I hadn’t come across Eryl before, or Joyce as a man’s name… So all of them are both Men & Women.

    Thanks to HG for the blog, which told me stuff I hadn’t realised about pangrams and to Shark for the crossword.

  2. regalize says:

    Browning is one of my favourite poets, so I really enjoyed this puzzle. One of his works is entitled ‘House’, which sent me off researching the ‘characters’ of that US medi-soap (which I have never watched) so many happy hours up a gum tree. A lesson to be learned here too. DON’T throw away your old Chambers! That appendix is not in the 12th edition and I wouldn’t have been able to get Eryl or Rana without it.
    Lovely puzzle Shark and informative blog from Holyghost.

  3. Jake says:

    Nice one Shark. Most enjoyable. Keep ’em coming!

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