Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8,144 / Punk

Posted by RatkojaRiku on November 20th, 2012


It is Tuesday today so there is normally a treat in store for solvers of the Independent cryptic crossword. Today was certainly no exception.

This puzzle gets full marks from me for flair and topicality, given the recent US presidential elections, and 10+ for entertainment value. And who could resist the humour of juxtaposing (Mitt) Romney, US presidential candidate, and Romney (Marsh), sheep breed?!

Some might think the clues at e.g. 1 and 5 a tad too daring, but I loved them – when the penny dropped, of course! I found parsing the wordplay in this one quite a challenge, especially at 8, 13 and 30 – not quite knowing how to spell the retailer at 13 was something of a handicap, while for a long time at 28 I misread “introduction” to mean “first letter(s)” rather than “insertion into”.

My clue of the day could have been one of half a dozen, but I will plump for the lovely & lit. at 27/3.

Thanks, Punk, for an immensely entertaining start to the day.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1   BARREL OF   LAUGHS HA HA (=laughs) in TUN (=barrel); the solution is a cryptic clue to a word in the actual clue, i.e. T-haha-un!
10   HANGMAN Double definition
11   FLEECED Double definition: FLEECED is “conned”, swindled AND (whimsically) “Romney (=entry at 3)’s thus”, i.e. like a sheep, Romney (Marsh) being a breed of sheep
12   NEUTER *(TENURE); “unsound” is anagram indicator; to doctor is to spay, castrate
13   SYCAMORE SYCAM (Macy’s=US retailer; “switched” indicates a reversal) + ORE (=rock, i.e. from which metal is extracted)
15   SUCK Double definition: SUCK is “be bad”, repellent as in What you did sucks! AND “drink” (through straw)
16   SHEEPISH Double definition: SHEEPISH is “embarrassed”, abashed AND (whimsically) “describing Romney (=entry at 3)”, i.e. Romney (Marsh) being a breed of sheep
19   RUMINATE RUMINATE is “consider one’s options”, meditate, muse AND (whimsically) “as might Romney (entry at 3)”, a Romney (Marsh) being a breed of sheep, hence a ruminant
20   STEW WETS=adds water; “for a turnover” indicates reversal
24   ANTELOPE TEL (=phone, i.e. abbreviation of telephone) in [A + NOPE (=refusal)]
26   ROCOCO RO (=OR; “retro” indicates reversal) + COCO<a> (=drink; “a short” means the letter “a” is dropped)
28   AMERICA ERIC (=Idle, i.e. UK actor-singer-comedian) in [A M<ormon> + A]; “leader” means first letter only; the definition is “country targeted by (Mitt) Romney (entry at 3)”, referring to recent US presidential elections
29   INSTALL I (=one) + N S (=two poles, i.e. N<orth> and S<outh>) + TALL (=high)
30   ROMAN   CENTURION ROMANCE + N (=north) + [O (=old) in TURIN (=European city)]
2   ANNOUNCER A + N N (=news, i.e. 2 x N=new) + OUNCE (=feline) + <edito>R (“finally” means last letter only)
4   LAND Double definition
5   FIFTY CENTS BU<ck> is half of a word meaning dollar, as is DOL<lar>, hence fifty cents
6   AVE MARIA [VE (=victorious day, i.e VE Day at end of WW2) in AM (=earlier times, as opposed to PM)] in ARIA (=song)
7   GECKO G<r>E<e>C<e> (“every so often” means alternate letters only) + KO (=killer blow, i.e. knockout); a gecko is a lizard, hence “one climbing the walls” (whimsically)
8   SODDEN SOD (=earth, i.e. turf) + DEN<mark> (“un-MARK-ed” means the letters “mark” are dropped)
9/18   THANKS A MILLION HANKS (=Oscar-winning actor, i.e. Tom Hanks for Philadelphia, Forrest Gump) in [TAMIL (=from Sri Lanka) + LION (=animal)]
14   CHINA PLATE *(HELP IN A CAT); “that’s bedraggled” is anagram indicator; “China plate” is Cockney rhyming slang for “mate”, hence “a fragile (=breakable, whimsically) friend”
17   HOT POTATO HOTPOT (=dish) + <c>A<s>T<r>O (“regularly” means alternate letters only)
21   WOOLLY Double definition: WOOLLY is “vague”, imprecise AND (whimsically) “as Romney (=entry a 3)”, Romney being a breed of sheep
22   BAZAAR A Z (=extreme characters, i.e. first and last letters of alphabet) in [BAA (=Romney (=entry at 3)’s comment, whimsically, i.e. sound made by sheep) + R (=right)]
23   MOUSER MO (=second) + USER (=druggie)
25   THERM {THE R<oyal> M<arines> (=company, i.e. of soldiers) or (and more likely)} THE R<oyal> M<ail> (=company delivering, i.e. letters)
27/3   MITT ROMNEY *(MY REMIT NOT); “liberal” is anagram indicator; & lit.

12 Responses to “Independent 8,144 / Punk”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I thought this was a lot of fun. I got MITT ROMNEY as one of my first in; the sheep connection took a bit of working out, but was part of the entertainment once I’d sussed what was going on. Plenty of good clues today, but MOUSER tickled me, for some reason.

    I couldn’t parse BARREL OF LAUGHS, and am not keen on the clue now that you’ve explained it, RR. As far as I can find out, Thahaun isn’t a word in English. I’d have saved that one for a round of Dingbats.

    Super puzzle, thank you to Punk.

  2. Paul A says:

    23d I took to be THE RM (Royal Mail) – company delivering? Like K’s D I started wondering about the sheep connection, until I got somewhere I could look it up. Lovely X-word, thanks to Punk and RR

  3. allan_c says:

    Once I got a few crossing letters BARREL OF LAUGHS came quite easily and it was a bit of a facepalm moment when I saw how to parse it. Previously I’d googled Thahaun but all I found was a reference to a burial ground in Ireland known as Thomple-Tha-Haun, which didn’t seem to hold out promise of much fun.

    Quite a few felines around today, either in clues or answers: ounce (=snow leopard), lion, cat, mouser.

    Favourite clue has to be SHEEPISH for its two layers of meaning, since (Mitt) Romney must be feeling rather sheepish by now.

    Thanks, Punk and RR

  4. BertandJoyce says:

    We struggled a bit with this one but when we finally finished we wondered why. Perhaps it’s because it’s late evening here and it’s been a long day!

    Mind you we didn’t know that ROMNEY was a breed of sheep and we couldn’t find anything in Chambers, however once we figured out 11ac the other thematic references fell into place.

    Thanks Punk – we didn’t know it was you as we solved the puzzle online. Thanks RR for the blog.

  5. rowland says:

    Really a lot of fun apart from BARREL OF LAUGHS which seems aa bit unfair to an ol d ‘pedant’ like me. It doesn’t make any sense either!! But this was good. Mr Punk is an able writer I think.


  6. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks to Paul A for the alternative parsing at 25, which I have added to the blog as a more likely reading of the clue than my own: I’m not used to seeing RM in crosswords with that meaning, although it is in Chambers, so why not?

  7. Rorschach says:

    What a brilliant day for crosswords. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

    I must confess to be less impressed by Thahaun as it doesn’t appear to be a word. My gripe is you could clue anything in this way and it ceases to be that impressive – I’ve seen (I think?) Morph use Motpoetryion in comments before – but would I want to see that as a clue? Probably not.

    The only times where is does work is where there is another element:

    Must’ve? = THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX (Which is a Tramp I think?) is a brilliant example of this type of clue.

    But apart from that (and Bu and Dol) I thought it was a cracker!

  8. flashling says:

    Couldn’t get an Indy for the commute this morning, panic!! So had to settle for Virgilius in the I, did that so got the Indy for the return, spent a couple of minutes thinking what the h*** is going on, and finished in less than 12 minutes, a bit odd, thought 1ac very clever but can understand the grumbles.

    Thanks RR and Punk, good fun while it lasted.

  9. Paul B says:

    Clues without definitions though, hmmmm. They are definitely art for art’s sake, though I wouldn’t mind coming up with a good ‘un.

  10. Dormouse says:

    I needed to do word searches to complete this, and even then I wasn’t convinced “fifty cents” was the answer to 5dn and didn’t have the confidence to enter it as I couldn’t see what it had to do with the clue. But I did find 1dn fairly easy as I had 3dn and 4dn, could see “Thahaun” was “ha ha” in “tun” and it was immediately obvious.

  11. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Nice puzzle as others said, though not a fan of 1ac (because Thahaun doesn’t mean anything – but I got it rather easily) and 5d (which I couldn’t find, perhaps because of missing out on the crossing 11ac and 13 too – having the second F or the Y would surely have led me to the answer).

    One mistake: 15ac, SACK (instead of SUCK) – but is it?
    With a bit of imagination [there is a ? after all] “to sack” = “to plunder” = “to be bad”. And SACK can be a kind of white wine (drink).

    Good crossword without (for me) a particular CoD.
    Many thanks, RR.

  12. Graham Pellen says:

    7D Living in Australia, I can confirm that the usual place to spot a gecko is indeed on a wall, so not really “whimsical”.

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