Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8059/Morph

Posted by Pierre on August 13th, 2012


We’ve had a wide variety of ‘guest’ setters in the Monday slot, and today it’s Morph, whose puzzles always seem to have a contemporary feel.  A fine crossword, which it took me a while to finish off; but when I had pinned everything down, I was able to step back and appreciate many well-constructed and elegant clues.

Overseas visitors to the Olympics were no doubt warned that in idle conversation, the default position for the British is usually the weather, and this was our loosely scattered theme this morning.  HEAD IN THE CLOUDS is the top across clue; and UNDER THE WEATHER our bottom across clue.  In between, we have mention of RAINFALL, NIMBUS, CUMULUS, HAILING, DELUGE, STORM, THUNDER and TORRENT, which pretty much sums up the summer so far.  And there’s probably some other stuff that I’ve missed.

Easier to solve than parse in some instances; and there’s still one clue whose parsing I have no idea about, so help welcomed.

cd  cryptic definition
dd  double definition
(xxxx)*  anagram
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x]  letter(s) missing


Boss, between 4 and 6, is practically useless?
I had a guess once I’d created a few crossing letters; but once you’d got 4 and 6 (NIMBUS and CUMULUS) then it’s HEAD for ‘boss’ and IN THE CLOUDS, for someone who’s a bit dizzy and no good at everyday stuff.

School ideology creating division
A charade of SCH for ‘school’ and ISM for the not very convincing definition (yes, I know it’s in dictionaries) of ‘ideology’.  CREATIONISM, DARWINISM, BLAIRISM and so on. The SCHI prefix comes originally from the Greek word for ‘split’ and you’ll find it in words like SCHIZOPHRENIA (literally ‘split mind’, although that’s not really what it is) and SCHIST (‘split rock’).  And, if it’s not too much information for a Monday morning, in what you might do if you were in a private cubicle next to a 24ac.

10  One’s protected by one’s … one’s exemption
I was never going to get this without all the crossing letters: the definition is ‘exemption’ and it’s an insertion (‘protected’) of UNIT for ‘one’ in I’M for ‘one’s’ and MY for ‘one’s’.  I think.

11  Joey maybe messes up at one-all, getting dismissed finally
The little bouncy fellow is a charade of MARS for ‘messes’, UP and I AL[L].

12  Phone enquiry to personnel department in Dortmund area?
Texting, texting, texting … they’re all at it, these young whippersnapper setters, even though texting is so twentieth-century.  A charade of RU for text-speak ‘are you’ and HR for ‘Human Resources’, for the more modern name for the Personnel Department.  Dortmund is on the River RUHR, in a major German industrial area of the same name.

13  Spice said to make an entrée
Cue homophone debate, perhaps, unless I’m missing something.  It’s CUMIN the spice, said to sound like COME IN, an ‘entrée’.  First off, for me the clue doesn’t unequivocally tell you which way round the homophone works.  Second, I have always said CUE – MIN rather than CUM – IN, so please don’t tell me I’ve been pronouncing it wrong for all these years.  But I do know that cumin seeds scattered sparingly over buttered baby carrots certainly does the business as one of the side dishes for the Sunday roast.

15  Breakfast items that man will finish
Great surface: a charade of EGGS and HE’LL for the paint.

16  Where Irish politicians are found covering Egypt thoroughly
The Irish parliament has been centre stage recently: Phi used DAIL in his Friday puzzle last week.  Irish members are found in the DAIL (pronounced ‘doyle’ and I think it has an accent on it) and if you insert ET for an abbreviation of Egypt you’ve got your answer.  ‘Thoroughly’ is the definition.

18  Where one’s taken for intimacy – being single’s best part?
If a member of the opposite sex asked you to come aside, you might expect some intimacy, I suppose; and those old enough to remember ‘singles’ will know that the best track was always on the A-SIDE.

20  Chain letter
A dd.

21  Runs by uncovered chicken coops becoming homes for vermin
Never heard of it, but it’s R for cricket ‘runs’ followed by [B]ATTERIES.

23  Irish party with a bit of leg on show, it’s rumoured
We’re having some homophones (in this case, ‘it’s rumoured’) this morning.  Can’t argue with this one, though: ‘shin’ for ‘bit of leg’ and ‘feign’ for ‘show’ gives you the Irish political party whose name in English means ‘we alone’ or ‘we ourselves’.

24  One of four in a lavatory?
Hidden in foUR IN A Lavatory.  I think this is an &lit, since it’s entirely possible that there would be four URINALS in a gents.

25  We’re groaning with heat after a bit of a storm when cycling – sick of such problems?
This is what I meant when I said that it was easier to solve than parse.  More meteorological references: Morph is asking you to make an anagram of (WERE HEAT)* with ‘groaning’ as the anagrind after THUNDER for ‘a bit of a storm’ with the first two letters (TH) ‘cycled’ to the end to give you UNDER TH.


Maybe text from old flame results in expulsion from church
More text.  If the girlfriend had given you the brown envelope and then was subsequently in touch, it would be EX COMMUNICATION.

River south of airless Scottish town getting less rainfall
[AIR]DRIE plus R for ‘river’.

Sunrise introducing a small amount of atmospheric pressure – it could bring rain
A reversal (‘rise’, since it’s a down clue) of SUN with an insertion of IMB for 1 millibar, a unit of atmospheric pressure.  And NIMBUS clouds can indeed bring rain, often heavy.  It was also the name for Harry Potter’s Quidditch broomstick.

Precipitation in central parts of ridge heading north – outlook for short range
A charade of HAIL for ‘precipitation’, IN, GDI,  a reversal (‘heading north’ in a down clue) of IGD for the central letters of rIDGe, and STANCE for ‘outlook’.  The definition is ‘short range': if someone is within HAILING DISTANCE, then they are in short enough range to hear you without artificial aids.  If this were the Cruciverbal Olympics, Morph would perhaps not medal (sorry) in the Conciseness for Clueing race.  But the surface is good and if you follow the instructions you’ll get to the answer.

Sky coverage increasing steadily – 50 per cent of country
More clouds, or ‘sky coverage’.  A charade of CUMUL[ATING] and US for ‘country’.

Trouble in new roles is common, perhaps
The definition is ‘common’.  It’s (NEW ROLES)* followed by S for ‘is’ as in it’S.  ‘Trouble’ is the anagrind.

Suffering such mal, trees died right away
A kind of &lit.  (SUCH MAL T[R]EES DIED)*  ‘Suffering’ is the anagrind and ‘right away’ is inviting you to remove the R from the anagram fodder.  Lovely clue.

14  Popular benefit cut initially introduced to North East not doing anything?
A charade of IN for ‘popular’, DOLE for ‘benefit’ plus an insertion of C for the first letter of ‘cut’ in NE.

17  Fast stream for hire with a bit of roach in it
An insertion of the first letter of Roach in TO RENT.

19  Get off toboggan, perhaps, in flood
This is outrageous, but funny.  If you were competing in the Winter Olympics in the LUGE, and you got off after finishing, you would DE-LUGE.

22  Foolish character with what should be on top underneath and either side
I regret to say that I have absolutely no idea how this works.  But somebody out there will put me out of my misery before long, I’m sure.

This was the first time that Morph and I have bumped into each other in the Monday Indy slot.  I enjoyed teasing out the solution and writing up the blog, so thank you to him.

18 Responses to “Independent 8059/Morph”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog. After much agonising I realised that IDIOT (22d) is I (character) + DOT on either side of another I, underneath. It’s extremely cheeky but I think it must be right, and it’s no exaggeration to say it took me far, far longer than the rest of the puzzle put together.

  2. Pierre says:

    Thanks, Thomas, but I’m afraid I’m still in the dark. Where does the ‘either side’ come into it?

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Pierre. I think what Thomas99 means is I (as a lower case letter) with the DOT underneath and with a second I inserted: i.e. DOT is “either side” of the I.

  4. MikeC says:

    Thanks Pierre and Morph. Enjoyable. Re IDIOT, I think what Thomas99 means is that you have an i, then a DOT (top part of an i) underneath it and either side of (surrounding) another i. If that’s right, then isn’t “character” doing double duty as part of the wordplay and the definition (“foolish character”)? Or am I missing something?

  5. MikeC says:

    Sorry, NeilW, we crossed.

  6. Thomas99 says:

    MikeC/NeilW –
    Yes, that’s what I meant. I think the definition is “foolish” (= idiot as an adjective e.g. “an idiot boy”, as Father Dougal was once described), not “foolish character” – no double duty.

  7. Thomas99 says:

    There’s a minor slip in 8d – the clue is “Suffering such mal, trees died right away” (no “from”), or it was in the downloaded version anyway. “From” would spoil it as it wouldn’t contribute to the wordplay. As it is, it’s a full &lit – a great clue, and in this case Morph’s being impressively concise too (7 word clue, 3 word answer).

  8. Cumbrian says:

    I enjoyed this, although I couldn’t parse IDIOT (thus feeling like one) and had to come her for the explanation, and missed A-Side (and yes I do remember those round black 7-inch things). Favourite clue from a good bunch was undoubtedly DELUGE, summed up very nicely by Pierre as “outrageous, but funny”. It gave me a good groan, anyway.

    Thanks Morph and Pierre, and the others for explaining IDIOT.

  9. rowland says:

    An extremely tortuous clue, if I may say, in an otherwise very entertaining puzzle.

    Indy gets it right with entertainment versus difficulty most of the time, and though we see some setters infrequently, this chap’s stuff stuff is very nice indeed. I’ll go with the weather clues for CODs.

    Very many thanks to compiler and blogger!


  10. allan_c says:

    Could 24a be related to the ‘weather’ theme? When it’s raining in 17d’s – a real 19d – it can be said to be p***ing down.

  11. Wanderer says:

    Loved the theme, and a big thumbs up for DUTCH ELM DISEASE. Also ‘Are you HR?’ made me smile. Failed to parse IDIOT so thanks to all for explaining it. URINAL took me forever to spot. Very enjoyable, many thanks to Morph and Pierre.

    Also, forgive me for going off-topic, but I haven’t been able to find a blog for Raich’s IoS puzzle number 1172, published online yesterday. Just wanted to say (somewhere) that I found it a particularly enjoyable solve, so thanks Raich if by chance you should see this.

  12. Pierre says:

    Thanks for explaining IDIOT. I’ve corrected the clue to DUTCH ELM DISEASE, Thomas – my copy typing’s not what it used to be.

    How do other people pronounce CUMIN? A quick survey among folk I’ve met today suggests that CUE-MIN is the most common way, but the other pronunciation must be acceptable, otherwise the clue wouldn’t work.

  13. MikeC says:

    Thanks Thomas99 and Pierre (again!). What an I—- I am to have missed the adjectival sense 😉

    CUMIN I have heard most commonly as cooh-min but Chambers gives come-in as an option, and there is an alternative spelling with MM, which would almost have to be a short “U”. Perhaps we should all pronounce it “djeera”, avoiding the problem altogether?

  14. allan_c says:

    Collins gives the two spellings, ‘cumin’ and ‘cummin’, but only the one pronunciation, with the short ‘u’. Chambers gives both pronunciations. Personally I pronounce it with the long ‘u’.

    And I too was wondering about the absence of a blog for IoS 1172.

  15. Thomas99 says:

    I have heard “cummin” (sounding like “come in”), though I say “cue-min”, unless I’m trying to be funny. According to an online pronunciation dictionary (you actually hear a man say it when you pass the mouse over the word), “come-in” is American. It was a very English lady I remember saying “come-in”, though, trying to teach me to cook.

  16. Pierre says:

    I’ve just posted a substitute blog for Raich’s Sunday puzzle.

  17. Morph says:

    Thanks for the blog, Pierre, and all your comments. I admit I say Queue-min too, but I have heard it the other way, and it’s in Chambers, so what the hell.
    Maybe idiot was a bit too clever for its own good. Seeemed a good idea at the time.
    I was afraid that summer would get going in earnest and make all my references to rain, written in July, look hopelessly dated. Sorry, I probably jinxed the weather.

  18. Dormouse says:

    This weekend must have been more tiring than I thought. Tried to start this on the train home this morning and couldn’t get anything for a long while. Had another go when I got home and finally got started. Still a couple of clues I just couldn’t get at the end, including 24ac, which I just couldn’t see. Think I need more sleep.

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