Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 14,101 by Cinephile

Posted by PeeDee on September 5th, 2012


A very high quality themed crossword from Cinephile here.

The theme is Gilberet and Sullivan operas.  I knew most of these, only having to go to Wikipedia to discover The Sorcerer and Thespis.  Despite being reasonably familiar with the theme I still found this a challenge. What a cracking crossword, very good fun indeed, just like the operettas themselves.   Thank you Cinephile.

I have indicated the themed solutions with links to the relevant Wikipedia pages.

Readers of a squeamish disposition may wish to skip over 16 across.

Hold the mouse pointer over any clue number to read the clue.

1 IOLANTHE vIOL ANTHEm (old instrument, choral work) with both end missing
5 BRUGES B (second) SURGE* (anagram=remarkable)
9 PATIENCE AT I (1st) entering PENCE (of little value) – definition is Solitaire, card game
10 AFFAIR AFFAIRs (business, singular) – definition is &lit describing a love affair, singular meaning special, out of the ordinary
12 GENRE GEN (information) RE (regarding, about) – definition is ‘type’
13 AIR BRIDGE AIR (melody) BRIDGE (card game) – transport link between islands
14 PIRATE PRATE (talk) about I (one, Roman numeral) – he could be one of the Pirates of Penzance
16 PRAIRIE prairie sounds like prayer-y (like a humble request, like a prayer) – the defintion is ‘plain’,  thanks to aztobesed for this.  My original reading was: “humble request” sounds like “umble request”, a request for a umble (a dish of offal). Hence a request for prairie oyster, a pararie oyster is a dish of bull calf’s testicle.
19 THESPIS THE SPIeS (agents) missing E, a point of the compass – operetta subtitled The Gods Grown Old
21 MIKADO ADO (trouble) on MI (road, M1 motorway) and K (king) – definition is ’emporer’
23 GONDOLIER anagram of GOLD, IRON and E (energy)
25 TRIAL T (first letter of Tehran) RIAL (currency) – twelve people are needed for a Trial by Jury
26 UTOPIA U (posh) TOPI (headgear) A (one) – Utopia Limited
27 PINAFORE PIN (number) AFORE (in advance of) – HMS Pinafore
28 TWINGE TWIN (one of the Gemini) and GE (first two letters of Gemini)
29 PRINCESS PRESS (papers) with INC (US equivalent of Ltd, limited) inserted – Princess Ida, mount Ida is the highest point in Crete.
1 IMPUGN I’M PUG (assertion one is a dog) on N (pole) – definition is ‘challenge’
2 LATIN RITE (IN A LITTER) – my first guess was that a Tridentine Mass was going to be some form of tooth enamel, but it turns out to be a Roman Catholic rite.
3 NIECE E (English) in NICE (French city)
4 HECTARE (THE ACRE)* – definition is &lit
6 REFER BACK ER (Elizabeth Regina, queen) between REF (judge) and BACK (defender)
7 GUARD could follow van to make vanguard – The Yeomen of the Guard
8 SORCERER sounds like “saucerer” – someone who would need cups
11 TRAP double/cryptic definition
15 APPROVING APP (software) ROVING (unlimited) – definition is ‘giving OK to’. I am not sure where ‘special’ fits in here.
17 RUDDIGORE RUDDI sounds like ruddy (red) and GROE (blood) – The Witch’s Curse is the subtitle for Ruddigore
18 STAG HUNT TAG (day, German) in SHUNT (move around)
20 SPIN double definition
21 MERRIER M (thousand, a number) and tERRIER (dog, missing head) – ‘the more the merrier’
22 PLIERS L (fifty, a number) in PIERS (supports)
24 NAOMI I MOAN (I am complaining) reversed (sent up)
25 TWAIN double definition, the author and two


35 Responses to “Financial Times 14,101 by Cinephile”

  1. Lynette says:

    Your explanation of 16ac alone proves to me that it was not worth me bothering to try and complete this.

  2. Thomas99 says:

    @1 That’s an Araucaria/Cinephile thing though – the clue’s solvable just as “Plain, with oyster…” and it doesn’t really matter too much if you don’t get the clever bit (I didn’t; just thought it was literally humble to eat them).

    It was a nicely pitched puzzle I thought. The theme helped me, but it didn’t mean I could overlook all the wordplay; the two elements were complementary. My last in was SORCERER, which was amusing and a bit outrageous. Thanks for the very thorough (e.g. “Prairie”!) blog.

  3. PeeDee says:

    Shame, but thats you loss really Lynette.

  4. aztobesed says:

    Thanks PeeDee. (I think)

    Mercifully my jugged kippers were safely digested before the explanation of 16. In my innocence I had parsed it as ‘prayer-y’ — like a humble request to the Lord (this is Araucaria). I was impressed by the ambition of constructing a standard size puzzle with no less than thirteen themed entries and part of the fun was in counting them in. I passed on just one – Utopia. Lovely enjoyment for a sunny London day. I will humbly disregard your 16 parse, hoping you don’t mind.

  5. Richard says:

    I sympathise with Lynette. A puzzle like this is much better suited to a weekend than a weekday. I certainly couldn’t complete this in my 45min lunchbreak.

    Even then, I thought the reference in the opening direction to same ‘authors’ rather than ‘same writers’ was a rather unnecessary attempt at misdirection as nobody ever speaks of ‘the authors of an opera’.

  6. PeeDee says:

    Thaomas @99, I think it is literally humble too. After castrating the male calfs the cowboys, who came pretty low down in the social strata, got to eat the priarie oysters instead of meat for dinner. This is very much the same as the being the one to eat the eat (h)umble pie, after all you social betters have got the choice parts of the animal.

  7. Richard says:

    Sorry, PeeDee. I forget to say thank you for your blog.

  8. crypticsue says:

    Well I enjoyed myself and I surprised myself by knowing more G&S than I thought I did. Thanks to Cinephile and PeeDee too.

  9. Eileen says:

    What a lovely puzzle – right up my street! It was great fun teasing out the titles, especially the partial ones.

    Thanks for the blog, PeeDee. I’ve a couple of queries / quibbles:

    I don’t understand the last part of your comment on 10ac: you’ve already explained the significance of ‘singular’, so I don’t see where the ‘special’ comes in.

    And I’m totally woth aztobesed’s parsing @4 of 16ac, ingenious though yours is: I don’t think Araucaria would ever suggest that ‘umble’ sounds like ‘humble': ‘prayer-y’ – sounds like a humble request – is much more his style, cf APPLY from Paul [‘like some fruit, or something like that] some time ago and Arachne’s recent gem: ‘Like a secluded corner for it? [5]’ 😉

  10. Eileen says:

    For ‘Araucaria’ read ‘Cinephile’, of course.

  11. Thomas99 says:

    I think I’ve come round to prayer-y too.

  12. rowland says:

    I know G&S quite well, so a feast for me even if I did not fancy the priarie oysters! Great fun with The Rev today.


  13. Lynette says:

    Prayery doesn’t actually exist as a word, does it?

  14. Eileen says:

    Lynnette @13

    No – neither does APPLY [= like an apple] nor NOOKY [= like a nook] – but it doesn’t need to, since it’s not the answer.

  15. Eileen says:

    I’m so sorry for misspelling your name!

  16. PeeDee says:

    Hi Eileen.

    With his generally encyclopedic knowledge, I can’t believe that Cinephile was unaware of the meaning of prairie oyster when he chose to use ‘oyster’ in the clue. Also “plain with oyster” does read like a instruction when ordering food rather than a call to prayer. He must have known ‘humble pie’ too, the clue is full of food references.

    Just because someone is old does not automatically make them a prude, I think he is having a bit of a laugh here, teasing some of his more squeamish solvers.

    I do like Prayery, its a good explanation, but I can’t believe that is all Cinephile had in mind.

  17. PeeDee says:

    Eileen, re your query @9: in 10 across the definition is either ‘connected with love’ or the clue is &lit and the definition is ‘singular business connected with love’.

    Neither is perfect: ‘connected with love’ is not a great definition for ‘affair’, and if the clue is &lit then ‘connected with love’ is not part of the wordplay.

    I chose the &lit option, my comments are highlighting the double meanings of ‘singular’ in the wordplay and the definition.

  18. Eileen says:

    Hi PeeDee

    “Just because someone is old does not automatically make them a prude”
    made me laugh, because I hope I’m living proof of that! 😉

    We’re going to have to agree [I hope] to disagree on this.

    As indicated above, I’ve battled with Rev John for decades and know he’s no prude! I just don’t see his style of cluing in your interpretation. I’ve already commented on the [unlikely] umble / humble homophone: in addition, I just can’t see any indication for ‘request’ in the clue, apart from my reading of ‘humble request’. Along with many others, I delight in Cinephile’s liberties but your interpretation assumes two or three steps too far, I think. [No hard feelings, I hope! 😉 ]

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi again PeeDee

    I was spending so much time choosing my words in my comment @18 that I failed to see your 17 before posting!

    I see what you mean. 😉

  20. PeeDee says:

    If anyone knows the Reverend Grahame, and can find a tactful way to ask, I would be very interested to know if he was aware of the definition of ‘prairie oyster’ and its connection with humble=offal and the food-related surface of the clue.

  21. PeeDee says:

    Eileen – of course no hard feelings, you are always unfailingly courteous in your posts. I hope I have not upset anyone with my interpretation.

  22. Paul B says:

    Just so long as we remain clear that it can’t be a homophone that way around, since humble in that sense means the same as it does as in pie (even where, of course, that is a Mondegreen for ‘nomble’ or ‘numble(s)’ pie): it has to be the horrid prayer-y (where ‘sounds’ is the indicator).

  23. PeeDee says:

    In view of the discussion I agree that prayer-y is the better explanation. The umble homophone does work, as offal is umble (not humble), but prayery is a better homophone and more in Cinephile’s style.

  24. Paul B says:

    Getting pedantic now, but umbles are numbles, so still same!

  25. PeeDee says:

    Don’t get you Paul: humble means lowly, umble means offal

    humble sounds like umble (at least as much as pararie sounds like prayer-y)

    neither sound the same to me, but then homophones are notoriously personal

  26. Paul B says:

    Humble (as in humble pie) is a a mondegreen: to start with there was nothing humble about umble pie (and the fact that Heep is very umble, and not even ‘umble, just makes the whole thing a lot worse in my opinion). So humble pie isn’t the dish of nomble, or possibly bull’s bollocks, referred to up the thread, it’s tied to the newly- and mistakenly-created meaning connected with humiliation. Thus the homophone HAS to be the prayer-y one. Yah?

  27. PeeDee says:

    But humble-pie is not in the clue at all, nor in my (mistaken) parsing of it. It is humble and umble that are homophones (ish), a prarie oyster being an example of umble.

    That humble-pie is a confusion of two words is irrelevant.

    BTW, I had not heard of the word mondegreen before, so thanks for that.

  28. PeeDee says:

    The homophone would be a bit dodgy anyway as Chambers does not give umble as a singular noun, only umbles as a plural. I suppose one prarie oyster could be an umble, if prayery can be a word then umble could be one too.

    Checking Chambers, humble meaning modest etc comes form a Latin root humilis meaning low. It is not a mondegreen, nothing to do with umbles at all.

  29. Paul B says:

    Humble is misheard for numbles, nombles or umbles.

  30. PeeDee says:

    In that case why would Chambers give the derivation of humble as [Fr, from Latin humilis low, from humus the ground]?

    Seems odd for them to write that if it is actually a mishearing of another word.

  31. Paul B says:

    Let me spell it out: the origination of the phrase ‘humble pie’ involves people mishearing humble where numbles (nombles or umbles) was correct. The etymology of humble per se has nothing to do with this.

    I’ll take the opportunity to reiterate the point I’m making, since we seem to have strayed: there isn’t sufficient information in the clue to refer solvers to prairie oyster, Collins def two. It’s much simpler than that, as we saw above.

  32. PeeDee says:

    Certainly, I agree my parsing was mistaken, I say as much in the blog and in the comments. I don’t argue with your point about humble-pie either, I always thought that was the case too.

    I was just querying your comment @22:

    Just so long as we remain clear that it can’t be a homophone…

    Humble and umble seem reasonable homphones as the words have different meanings stemmimg from different roots.

    That humble-pie is a mondegreen doesn’t really have anything to do with it. Humble-pie is not in the clue, not in the parsing, mistaken or otherwise.

  33. Paul B says:

    I said that for reasons of logic the clue can only be parsed as a homophone of prayer-y, and that apart from anything else, e.g. that humble can’t really be a homophone of itself, there’s insufficient information to justify any other reading.

  34. PeeDee says:

    I guess humble/umble doesn’t seem like a homophone of itself to me, they seem like different words, but no matter. It is past my bedtime now, good night and thanks for all your input into the blog today.

  35. Paul B says:

    We still haven’t connected, alas. But yes, I too gave up and went to bed!

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