Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,825 – Puck

Posted by Andrew on December 21st, 2012


Some tricky stuff here from Puck – I took a while to get going on this, and even when a lucky guess gave me the crucial 26,16 there was still some work to be done, and yet more to explain the clues even when I’d found the answers. A very enjoyable and challenging one for my last blog before Christmas, and still the Araucaria and Azed specials to look forward to. Many thanks to Puck for this one, and Merry Christmas to all.

1. ASHTRAY H[eroin] in ASTRAY (wrong), and an ashtray is a “receptacle for [a] narcotic user”
5. CARVERY CAR + VERY (A Very Light, named after a Mr Very, is a type of distress or signal flare)
10. IMAM Reverse of MIAMI less an I (one). A muslim rather than specifically Arab leader, I would have said, though the word itself is from Arabic.
11. ATTRACTIVE (A CAR TTT)* (“three times”) + IV + [tim]E
14. SWISS ROLL W I (with one) in S S S (three times small) + ROLL
17. KNOCK Nothing to do with this Pink and her hits, but a reference to pinking or knocking, which is a malfunction of car engines using the wrong type of fuel; and the 1970 hit song “Knock Three Times
19. UNDERCOAT (ON A CRUDE)* + T[able]
23. RUDIMENT DIM [eeyor]E in RUNT
24. MAJORS JO[b] (never-ending position) in MARS (god). Majors are the upper sports leagues in America (e.g. Major League Baseball)
26,16. THREE TIMES A LADY Another seventies hit , and “Gag! A gag! A gag? A” can be rewritten as GAGA GAGA GAGA, or THREE TIMES A LADY [Gaga] – which I only spotted just in time while writing up the blog.
27. IBIS I + BIS (= twice, from Latin, also what the French say instead of “encore”)
28. TYPESET [th]E [time]S in PETTY*
29. DEMESNE Anagram of first letters of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, plus three E[uropean]s – the play (which has Puck as a character, of course) is often abbreviated as MSND, but using the S from Shakespeare gives some nice extra accuracy here.
2. SOMEHOW Homophone (“broadcating”) of “sum” (problem) + WHO*
3. TEMPI ATTEMPT IT less A and three (out of four) Ts, with “notable” indicating that these are musical speeds
4. AMATEUR A + (ETA in RUM, reversed)
6. AVATAR “A” three times alternating with V[ideo] T[ape] R[ecorder]
7. VITRIOLIC TRIO – a group of three, which is “three times” less “times” or “by” (as is 2 by 2 is 4) – in CIVIL*
8. REVILED REV[erend] + reverse of DELI
9. IT’S ALL ONE TO ME IT[alian] SAL + LONE (not married) + TOME
15. SACRILEGE EG (say) in (SIR ALEC)*
20. EN MASSE MA’S in [s]ENSE
21. ARRAIGN Homophone of “a reign”
22,25. BEETLEJUICE BEETLE (car) + JUICE (petrol). In the film Beetlejuice the title character, a ghost, is called up by saying his name three times.

19 Responses to “Guardian 25,825 – Puck”

  1. muffin says:

    Thanks Andrew and Puck
    Some pretty obscure stuff here. I don’t think I have ever had to use the “Check” function as often to confirm answers that I couldn’t parse.
    I guessed BEETLEJUICE from the “film car”, but even a quick Google didn’t give me the “three times” significance.
    I gave up on ARRAIGN – I was on the wrong lines as I thought that the “sounds like” bit was the charge, not the rule – in fact on reading the clue again, I still do!

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew, and Puck. Although I got 12a in a trice, and so to the theme, there was lots here to test the solver, including second last in KNOCK (last was 15d). Only quibble was IMAM, whe ‘Arab’ is quite inadequate.

  3. John Appleton says:

    Nice inventive theme here. I liked the inclusion of Beetlejuice. KNOCK was an obscure one for me, as was DEMESNE, but enjoyable all the same.

  4. Thomas99 says:

    10a: Imam can of course mean any muslim religious leader, but that is not the only way to understand the clue.

    imam – an ARAB word for LEADER (any arabic word is presumably “arab”, ie. from Arabia, of the Arabs etc.)
    Imam (capitalized) – one of the early muslim LEADERS, all of whom were ARABs

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew – and particularly for explaining the ‘three times’ reference in BEETLEJUICE.

    I thought this was excellent stuff. I was lucky enough to get the theme early on from 7dn and 25,16 followed soon after.

    Great surfaces, as always from Puck, and I especially admired the repeated device found in 11, 14 and 29ac and 3 and 6dn. I loved the ‘dropping by’ in 7dn, too. [I’ve been caught out by ‘by = times’ more than once – but not today.]

    I’ve searched the grid for a Puckish trick tying the whole thing together but have found nothing – but, as I always say, that certainly doesn’t mean there isn’t one. 😉

  6. Aztobesed says:

    I’ve only ever heard It abbreviated as The Dream or MND – never with the S. It’s long been one of my favourite words for its exotic look alone. I’ve long wondered how you pronounce it – not that there’s much demand for it in everyday conversation – but I would have probably gone for ‘de-main’ as a tip towards Norman French but in these days of pronunciation buttons in apps, I learn that it’s ‘de-mez’ with the faintest of a swallowed ‘n’ at the end.

    Thanks for the blog.

  7. james g says:

    Really tough, but very good. Loved the different uses of the theme.
    Thanks so much for the blog, too. Couldn’t see the three times in beetlejuice, nor parse amateur without it. Thanks.
    I thought “demesne” was pronounced exactly as “demean”, but one lives and learns!

  8. Trailman says:

    Took ages to get going, running through all the clues until REVILED fitted in. That had helpful consonants as checking letters, and things started to work out.

    As well as mentally discarding IMAM for the secular Emir etc (until nothing else fitted), my big problem at the end was entering Automotive for 11ac in the corner where I’d started. Eventually 6d made no sense and I saw the error of my ways. Thanks for the blog Andrew and to Puck for his labour.

    A very satisfying pre-Xmas workout. Now, back to Cyclops and his mega prize!

  9. postrophe says:

    The Oxford Dictionary gives:- demesne
    Pronunciation: /d??me?n, d??mi?n/

    Sort of rhymes with chow mein!

  10. Aztobesed says:

    Yes, I checked the phonetics in Chambers and my instincts were right first time. The app I have (for Advanced English Dictionary) has it as ‘dee-mez’ with an American twang – presumably their choice of pronunciation. (How they must tire of our mainwarisms.)

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Puck

    I only came to this this evening and found it very slow going at first, but a catnap bucked me up and I finished it at a reasonable pace, especially after I caught on to the ‘triple letter’ device. I can’t say I like this use of multiple constructions of single letters as much as Eileen seems to, but it was an extremely enjoyable solve on the whole.

    I missed the explanation of ‘dropping by’ which I lazily assumed referred to the insertion of ‘trio’ though the answer itself was clear enough.

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    For what it is worth, this site gives pronunciations of such as demesne.

  13. Sylvia says:

    Phew! Tough but very enjoyable. Failed in SE corner due to trying to get ‘tern’ for 27a, so didn’t get 21 or 25d, 24a .or 29a

  14. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Puck for the workout and Andrew for the parsing.

    This took some getting in to but was worth the effort. Didn’t know the film, Beetlejuice but worked it out anyway.Thanks for the explanation, Andrew.

    Like Eileen, I searched for a theme to no avail.

    Giovanna x

  15. iam says:

    27ac IBIS – me again

  16. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Slow start like a few others. But 27a gave hints that 26a was a number. So Eight, Seven & Three were obvious candidates.

    Solving 7d from the wordplay gave “three” leading to the answer to 26,16. then it was all fun until the SE corner which was hard to crack.

    Got there in the end but another tough challenge. Enjoyable though.

    Thanks to Puck and Andrew.

  17. fearsome says:

    thanks Puck and Andrew
    Did finish it but had several I couldn’t parse completely

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I was lucky that yesterday (Friday) I had to spend the day in the angiography department at the local hospital. It is a long procedure with lots of rest periods. Thankfully, The Guardian provided the perfect distraction which lasted all day and satisfactorily finally collapsed before I was discharged.
    I thought the Gaga clue was lovely.

  19. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Puck and Andrew

    This was one of several puzzles that I printed off before Christmas and have slowly worked my way through in the New Year. And what a cracker that this one was !!!

    A typical Puck with his exquisite clues, interesting theme / play on a theme and as much work to do in working out why your answer was right. Was able to get the answer to 25,16 quite early on (also through 7d) and cursed Puck as it hummed in my head all day. As with others, there was still plenty of challenges to get it finished.

    Finally cracked why Lady Gaga was the key to the song that was a hit eight years before she was born … and ‘smiled loudly’. Similarly appreciated the misdirection with Pink at 17.

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