Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8027 / Phi

Posted by duncanshiell on July 6th, 2012


Phi ‘s puzzles often show that he has different leisure and reading interests to me – today we have reference to films, history, art, poetry, religion and birds.  I have only a superficial knowledge of most of these topics, but enough to solve the clues to the extent that I simply needed to check that a number of my entries made sense.   I was more comfortable with the references to geography, astronomy, music and chemistry.




I recognise the world would be vey boring if we all had the same interests and I continue to learn new information from crosswords.  I had vaguely heard of AMERICAN GOTHIC, but not as a painting I have to admit.  LES FLEURS DU MAL is not a volume I have read.

Regular readers of my blogs will be aware that I am not a great fan of double and cryptic definitions and we had a number of them today.  I liked RELIGIOUS ORDERS, had no quarrel with TO-DO, but I wasn’t keen on TICKET COLLECTOR.

The clues I enjoy most are those with complex wordplay building up the answer from a number of components.  Good examples of such clues today were those for  CHIMAERA, EROICA, EPHEMERIS and HOUSECOAT

Despite my slight struggles with the allusions to the Arts, I thought this puzzle was fair and towards the easier end of Phi’s spectrum.

My favourite clue was the one for EPHEMERIS with its use of  ‘record’ and ‘moon’

The only single word that was completely new to me was REIFY

I can’t see a Nina or a theme. The puzzle is not a pangram. It’s just a good old-fashioned crossword.

Clue Wordplay Entry

Competent Hollywood star’s no good (4)


GABLE (reference Clark GABLE [1901 – 1960], American actor, probably most notable for his role as Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind) excluding (no) G (good)


ABLE (competent)



Regal family reversed defeat, getting daughter installed (6)


ROUT (utter defeat) reversed (reversed) containing (getting … installed) D (daughter)

TU (D) OR<

TUDOR (reference the Welsh family of TUDOR, which  held the English throne from1485 to 1603; regal family)



Gull’s expected around front in Paignton (4)


DUE (expected) containing (round) P (first letter of [front in] PAIGNTON)

DU (P) E

DUPE (deceive; gull)

This writer’s substantial cut is legendary (6)


MY (belonging to me; this writer’s) + THICK (having a great [or specified] distance in measurement from surface to surface in the lesser dimension; strong; substantial) excluding the the last letter (cut) K


MYTHIC (fabulous; legendary)

Number accepting unusual hotel charity programme (8)


TEN (number) containing (accepting) an anagram of (unusual) HOTEL


TELETHON (a very long television programme, especially one seeking to raise money for a charity; charity programme)


I’m involved in tea time?  That’s an illusion (8)


IM (I’m) contained in (involved in) (CHA [tea] + ERA [a period of time])


CHIMAERA (an old variant spelling of CHIMERA [idle or wild fancy; illusion])

Twins, on return, say little (6)


EG (exempli gratia; for example; say) reversed (on return) + MINI (little)


GEMINI (reference GEMINI, the Twins, a constellation containing the two bright stars Castor and Pollux, giving its name to, and formerly coinciding with, a sign of the zodiac)


Famous painting represented as choice art in mag (8,6)


Anagram of (represented as) CHOICE ART IN MAG


AMERICAN GOTHIC (a painting by Grant Wood [1891 – 1942], in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Google wanted to tell me more about a television series of the same name than it did about a famous painting)


Mulled refusals for translating French poem (3,6,2,3)


Anagram of (for translating) MULLED REFUSALS LES FLEURS DU MAL (a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire [1821 – 1867])

Special concern about cocaine is uncommon (6)


S (special)+ (CARE [concern]) containing [about] C [cocaine])


SCARCE (in short supply; uncommon)

Vessel entering valley had finally lost the sun (8)


(ARK [vessel] contained in (entering) DENE [small valley]) + D (last letter of [finally] HAD)


DARKENED (lost the sun)

Monastic life is adopted by fool with little hesitation (8)


(IS contained in [adopted by] CLOT [fool]) + ER (slight [little] hesitation)


CLOISTER (covered arcade forming part of a monastic or collegiate establishment; a place of religious retirement, a monastery or nunnery; monastic life)


Ring I see ocurring in historic period and symphony (6)


(O [ring] + I + C [see {the letter C}]) contained in (in) ERA (historic period)

ER (O I C) A

EROICA (Symphony [No 3 by Beethoven])

Fish-catcher missing first two in getting its fish? (4)


OSPREY (a bird that feeds on fish; fish catcher) excluding (missing) OS (the first two [letters])


PREY (fish is the PREY of the OSPREY)

Accommodation?  Nothing doing for one in travels (5)


ROAMS (wanders; travels) substituting O (nothing) in place of (for) A (one)


ROOMS (an example of a type of accommodation)
26 Activity not yet started? (2-2) TO-DO (bustle, stir, commotion; activity) TO-DO (reference a TO-DO list, a list of things not yet started) double definition
Clue Wordplay Entry
2 Northern town irreversibly threatened?  Not entirely (5) Hidden word in (not entirely) IRREVERSIBLY THREATENED

BLYTH (a town on the East coast of England about 20 Km North North East of Newcastle Upon Tyne – another ‘northern town’ that is south of where I live)


3 Record here is possibly including first sign of moon? (9)

EP (Extended Play record) + (an anagram of [possibly] HERE IS containing M [first letter of {first sign of} MOON])


EPHEMERIS (an astronomical almanac or table listing the daily positions of the sun, moon, planets and certain stars)


4 Transport employee not expected to give you a punch? (6,9) TICKET COLLECTOR (transport employee)

TICKET COLLECTOR (your ticket on a bus or train may be punched by a TICKET COLLECTOR to show that it has been verified and cannot be used again)  I assume the clue is misdirecting solvers to read ‘punch’ in the sense of hit with the fist and you don’t expect to be hit by a TICKET COLLECTOR.


5 Get off track, finally dropping into hideout (7)

(TRAIL [track] excluding the final letter [finally dropping] L) contained in (into) DEN (lair, pit or cave,study, each of which could be used as a hideout)


DETRAIN (get off [a train])


6 "Get thee to a nunnery" (and others) – joining these? (9,6)

RELIGIOUS ORDERS ("Get thee to a nunnery" is an instruction or ORDER and relates to RELIGIOUS activity.  "And others" implies that we consider more than one instruction to get the plural ORDERS)


RELIGIOUS ORDERS (A RELIGIOUS ORDER is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder’s religious practice. A nunnery is an example of one element of such an Order.  "and others" can also apply here as there are many other examples such as monasteries, and individual religions could also be considered as ORDERS)


7 Fact lawyer supplied to corporation (5)

DA (district attorney; public prosecutor, lawyer) + TUM (stomach; corporation)


DATUM (singular of data [facts given].  In an ideal world all data would be true [one of the definitions of ‘fact’]  We don’t live in an ideal world)


8 Historic Middle East state, emblem of revival, mostly attracting US agents (9)

PHOENIX (a legendary Arabian bird, worshipped in ancient Egypt, the only individual of its kind, that burned itself every 500 years or so and rose rejuvenated from its ashes; hence anything that rises from its own or its predecessor’s ashes; emblem of revival) excluding the final letter (mostly) X + CIA (Central Intelligence Agency, employer of spies)


PHOENICIA (historic Middle East state)


14 Tooth containing unexpected clue regarding small-scale structure (9)

MOLAR (tooth) containing (containing) an anagram of (unexpected) CLUE


MOLECULAR (describing the structure of something formed form the smallest particles of any substance that retain the properties of that substance, usually consisting of a limited group of atoms; regarding small-scale structure)


15 Informal garment, largely warm – avail oneself of one in bed (9)

HOT (warm) excluding the final letter (mostly) T + USE (avail onself of) + (a [one] contained in [in] COT [bed])


HOUSECOAT (a woman’s usually long coatlike dressing-gown, worn at home; informal garment)


17 Fail to swap components and suffer (7) GO UNDER (fail) swapping round the two components GO and UNDER

UNDERGO (suffer)


19 Consider concrete base for line if investing in railway (5)

(E [final letter of {base for} LINE) + IF [provided]) contained in (investing in) RY (railway)

R (E IF) Y

REIFY (think of as a material thing; consider concrete)


21 Hero’s gamble upset after 50 invaded (2,3)

(L ([roman numeral for 50] contained in [invaded] DICE [take great risks; gamble]) all reversed (upset)

E (L) CID<

EL CID (reference Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (1043 – 1099),the Lord Master of Miitary Arts [hero I guess] known as EL CID CAMPEADOR Castilian nobleman, leader and diplomat)


12 Responses to “Independent 8027 / Phi”

  1. Ian SW3 says:

    Thanks, Duncan and Phi. A gentle romp in under ten minutes, but I don’t mind as it was enjoyable and I have a lot of work to do before the tennis starts.

    I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought crossword solvers were more likely to be inclined to the arts than the sciences and so will not have been troubled by any of today’s references, but of course it’s good sometimes to have a different perspective from bloggers and setters, and I have often picked up new scientific terms from crosswords.

    Re 19a, I’m sure you meant to write “final letter of {base for} LINE”

  2. duncanshiell says:


    Thanks – you are right about 19d – I have corrected the blog now.

    I’m sure you are right about the inclination of most solvers to the arts. I listen to classical music a lot, but classic literature, poetry and art tends to pass me by. Sport, escapist literature and the sciences tend to attract me more. My wife reckons I’m a Philistine.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Many thanks, Duncan, for the blog and Phi for the puzzle which I too found on the easy side but enjoyable of course. Was able to get the two words that were new to me (EPHEMERIS and REIFY) from the clear wordplay – similarly the less common spelling CHIMAERA. Trickiest clue (and my last answer): PREY

  4. Carslake says:

    I too was rather unimpressed by TICKET COLLECTOR, though I enjoyed the puzzle as a whole. It doesn’t really work in the way you suggest, but in trying to justify what was clearly meant to be the answer, I concluded that perhaps a ticket _collector_ wouldn’t punch your ticket because s/he has collected it (whereas a ticket _inspector_ might well ‘give you a punch’). That said, in most transport situations, tickets are inspected (and punched) rather than collected.

  5. Paul B says:

    Most setters, OTOH, are inclined towards maths. Apparently.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Duncan, fine blog as usual. ‘A good old-fashioned puzzle’ is an apposite description, I think: good range of topics and clueing; some new words to struggle with (never seen that spelling of CHIMAERA) and a French poem I’d never heard of. I liked PREY but still don’t really get TICKET COLLECTOR. But a good end to the week.

    I’d say that a majority of clues are geared towards literature and the arts (although Anarche and Tees have both given us largely science-based themes recently). From my own experience, I know lots more biochemists who have bookshelves full of contemporary and classic literature than arts-based folk who have any wide understanding of the sciences.

    And Paul B is right – I have been very surprised by how many of the setters I’ve met at the various S&B events whose background is in maths or IT.

    Good weekend to everyone.

  7. Bamberger says:

    After 40 mins gave up with only 1a,4a,7a,4d & 7d solved. Ian SW3 -that is an amazing time! Great blog -just too hard for me.

  8. Dormouse says:

    Last two clues in were 5dn and 24ac. I guessed “detrain” and a word search said that was the only word to fit the crossing letters, but I couldn’t see why. Unfortunately, for 24ac, I saw “cray” as a type of fish and thought that must be the answer.

    As to the C.P. Snow Two Cultures, it’s my experience that scientists and techies are interested in the arts whereas artists are not interested in science. As I said earlier this week, I have a degree in physics, worked thirty years in IT, but listen to classical music at every opportunity. (I was intrigued to discover recently that the Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg had a degree in engineering and worked in the Swedish patent office for fifty years, ending up as head of department.)

  9. Dormouse says:

    Forgot to say, I knew the picture at 13ac for years, it being much parodied, before I knew it was called American Gothic. Never heard of the French poem, though.

    I was delayed in solving 13ac because my first guess for 4dn was “ticket inspector” which almost sounds plausible as the correct answer.

  10. duncanshiell says:

    Interesting comments @ 5 and 6 by Paul B and K’s dad.

    Perhaps I should give up blogging and concentrate on setting as I have a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science.

    However, I have always felt more comfortable as an analyst and my attempts at writing clues could very fairly be rated within the spectrum of poor to abysmal.

  11. Phi says:

    My own observation would be that crosswords appeal to scientists who like the arts – it’s the mix of rigour/design/structure in producing a grid with the more ‘creative’ side of clue-writing that hits the spot. I think it much the place to be if you to affect (or even have) a wide knowledge of the world) And I’d point out that I’ve given you mathematicians and astronomers in recent months, as well as ballet.

    We very definitely have ticket inspectors punching tickets here in Wellington – I can see why a ten-trip ticket needs a sequence of holes to show it’s being used, but no-one can explain why my monthly needs one hole putting in it (preferably early in the month). We do not have tickets collected.

    American Gothic is one of those pictures that ‘everyone knows’ (it is simultaneously iconic and parodiable), even if they don’t know the title (go and Google it). I think it almost a public service to complete your knowledge in this way…

    Do try Atterberg’s symphonies.

  12. flashling says:

    Re Duncan’s “Perhaps I should give up blogging and concentrate on setting as I have a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science.

    However, I have always felt more comfortable as an analyst and my attempts at writing clues could very fairly be rated within the spectrum of poor to abysmal.”

    We are in the same boat in so many ways Duncan I’m a maths/comp sci graduate as well and couldn’t agree more with the second line, those with the spark to get a really devious defintion are worth their weight in gold, even if they only get paid pennies.

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