Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,882 – Orlando

Posted by Andrew on February 27th, 2013


A typically well-crafted and entertaining puzzle from Orlando, where the wit is often concealed under a mask of modest understatement.

There’s a musical theme, with a number of famous songs and performers appearing or being mentioned. As always, some of these may cause problems to those who don’t know them, but this time most them were right up my street, so I’ll be interested to see how others found it.

1. ALPACAS A C A in ALPS (The Sound of Music is set near the Austrian Alps)
9. TATUM Reverse of MUTAT[e], giving the amazing blind jazz pianist Art Tatum. Some examples of his talent here and here.
10. MIA FARROW I in MA (degree) + F + ARROW. To continue the musical theme, Mia Farrow was married (not simultaneously) to Frank Sinatra and André Previn , and subsequently was the partner of Woody Allen (known as a jazz clarinettist as well as film director).
12. FAST Double definition
14. FOR ALL WE KNOW (WOW FOLK LEARN)* and two definitions: song (or maybe this one) and “possibly”.
18. A FINE ROMANCE Two cryptic constructions for another song: NERO + M in A FIANCE (“one who’s intended”); and FINE ROMAN (what Nero was “certainly not”) in ACE (service, in tennis)
21. TARN TAR (sailor, salt) + [mormo]N. A tarn is a mountain lake, and there’s a surface reference to the Mormon stronghold of Salt Lake City
22. SACRAMENTO A CRAM in STONE* – Sacramento is the state capital of California, as all pub quizzers know.
25. FOSTERING [Jodie] FOSTER + I[sland] N[eeding] G[entle]
26. LOONS Hidden in amarilLO ON Springboards – the Loon is a diving bird
27. LESSONS “The children” in a mix of French and English could be LES SONS
1,20. AS TIME GOES BY (BOGEY’S MATE IS)* A delightfully appropriate anagram for the song that features in the film Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart.
2. PUTSCH PUT (place) + SCH, and a PUTSCH might result in a change of rulers or governors
3. COMMODORES OR in COMMODES for a more recent band
4. SUMAC Reverse of [Albert] CAMUS, winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1957. I think the Sumac tree is reasonably well know, especially to crossword solvers, as is Camus, but perhaps making the clue rely on both at once might be thought a little tricky.
5. A CAPPELLA P + A CAP ELLA [Fitzgerald]
6. SLAY Homophone of “sleigh”
7. MARIANNE IAN (Lavender, actor who played Private Pike in Dad’s Army) in MARNE (scene of two WW1 battles)
8. DOWNTOWN W in DOWNTON (Abbey, from the TV series). There are several songs called “Downtown”, but surely this one is the most famous (well, it is to me).
13. PEACH MELBA PEACH (tell, as in to tell or inform on someone) + [Dame Nellie] MELBA. The fact that the dish is named after the singer is rather a weakness
16. FAITHFUL Reference to the Christmas carol “O Come All Ye FAITHFUL”, and to get the singer MARIANNE FAITHFULL you would have to add another L (50)
19. ENCORE I’m not sure about this one – EN is the middle of serENade, and CORE is also a middle section, so maybe “play it again” it telling us to join both of those together, as well as being the definition
23. RIGID RIG (to fix or “cook”) + I[mproved]D
24. NERO ER (the Queen, so “leading lady”) in reverse of ON, and Nero is said to have fiddled while Rome burned

31 Responses to “Guardian 25,882 – Orlando”

  1. ToniL says:

    Lovely, thank-you Orlando and Andrew.

    1,20 favourite, was going to give my parsing of 10, which differed from yours, but a quick glance after Captcha and you appear to have amended your blog!!

    I justified 19 as Serenade having an “EN” Core!

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Orlando

    Much agree with your assessment. I had to check a couple of songs after working them out but the answers were pretty clear.

    Orlando’s characteristic gentle wit, light touch, and precise cluing are very enjoyable. Not very hard but the style carries the day.

    I particularly liked 21a, 1d, 2d, and 5d.

  3. ToniL says:

    22a Sacramento was also a hit for ‘Middle of the Road’

  4. liz says:

    Thanks Andrew. And thanks to Orlando for a really enjoyable puzzle. Art Tatum is one of my favourites, so I particularly liked 9ac.

    1,20 was superb!

    I failed on FAST. DDs are often my undoing!

    And why do I always forget the Captcha!

  5. John Appleton says:

    A nice challenge, with a theme that was by no means impenetrable to those who don’t care for music (should such a creature exist). I only failed on 6d, for which I had SOAR – it kind of works, if you stretch the imagination to a certain degree, but the real answer makes more sense, undoubtedly.

  6. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Nice puzzle from Orlando: not difficult, but very pleasing. His crosswords always have a good variety of succinct clues with smooth surface readings. Only PEACH MELBA disappointed slightly. Thematics are unusual for this setter; however, the theme here is not obtrusive.

    Last in was FAST (a clue that had crept in from a Rufus crossword). 1,20 was the star of the show for me, of course, but I liked the Utah surface of 21a.

  7. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Orlando and Andrew

    Always enjoy this setter and today was no exception. Started out with MIA FARROW and finished with TARN. Thought 1,20 was exquisite, 16d not too far behind and 9a was also very clever.

    Took a long time to understand RIGID and thought that TARN was very well misdirected (or at least I was). Knew some of the songs and the others were imminently gettable from the clue.

  8. george says:

    Thanks Andrew for the explanations. I remembered the songs from the old films that I watched on TV as a child. I have just listened to ‘A Fine Romance’ whilst watching the video of Fred and Ginger. Modern technology is wonderful for such trips down Memory Lane.

    I had a staghorn SUMAC tree in my garden in Cheshire before the frost got to it one winter; two of its small shoots are still attempting a comeback. It’s a North American species and is a pretty sight all year round.

    I failed on TATUM as I am not so familiar with Art. I do know a Nobel biochemist with the same surname, but he would have been less well known and out of place in this musical crossword.

    Enjoyed that one very much.

  9. michelle says:

    I enjoyed this artful puzzle with its references to movies, music, songs, singers and actors.


    New word for me was TARN.

    Last in was ENCORE which was (I thought at the time) the only one I couldn’t parse properly.

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I especially enjoyed your fine parsing of 18a which I now realise I simply solved from the crossing letters.

    I also realise now that I parsed 24d incorrectly as I was thinking of ‘leading lady’ (Sophia L)oren’ reversed to get NERO by dropping the “L” of Loren. I guess I was in “movie actress mode.” Anyway it got me the right answer!

  10. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog.

    It’s strange how people’s views differ. Several people here have commended 21 but I felt the clue elements were in the wrong order. Mormon’s last was the first element in the clue but the last part of the answer. I think Orlando should have put more work into this clue.

  11. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for the blog. You have summed this puzzle up perfectly in your first paragraph.

    A FINE ROMANCE and AS TIME GOES BY are also among my favourite TV sitcoms, both starring Judi Dench. I did wonder if FOR ALL WE KNOW was another, that I had missed, but it seems not.

    Many thanks, Orlando, for another box of delights.

  12. John Appleton says:

    Chas @10: That wasn’t something I noticed, but I’ve got used to “X by/beside/next to Y” referring to two things next to each other, with no specific order. There is arguably an implied order, but even so, I feel it a valid misdirection. In this particular clue, if one already has the crossing T, the order should be clear anyway.

  13. Trailman says:

    Enjoyed this as much as any puzzle in ages; thank you, Orlando. Is DOWNTO(W)N the first recorded cryptic appearance of the fictional abbey? Paused over PEACH MELBA, as I didn’t know the alternative meaning of ‘tell’, and of the songs was unaware of FOR ALL WE KNOW. But a succession of great surfaces, and loved the MARIANNE FAITHFUL(L) quasi-link.

  14. Rowland says:

    Yes these clues look and feel very easy, and are all very good. I don’t know how easy they are to write, but this is polished compared to some Guardian offerings, in my view. NOt straggly or over-complicated, or struggling to have a plausible surface!

    1 20 is my CoD.


  15. Gervase says:

    michelle @9: Not surprising that TARN is unfamiliar to one from Oz. The word is used in northern England in the names of (often very) small mountain lakes, particularly in the Lake District. Like other names used in Cumbria for geographical features – ‘beck’ for ‘stream’, ‘fell’ for ‘mountain’ – it is of Scandinavian origin, reflecting the settlement of these regions by Norsemen (in fact the words are the common names for these features in modern Scandinavian languages: tjärn, bäck, fjäll in Swedish, for example). The other reason is that a TARN is a post-glacial feature – not something with which Australia is generously provided….

  16. Robi says:

    Very enjoyable puzzle, although I had to Google a couple of things to confirm.

    Thanks Andrew; I parsed ENCORE as ToniL @1. I thought there was a misprnit in PEACH MELBA as my singer was MEL B, and I thought the ‘a’ had been left out. :(

    Yes, 1,20 was a very well-crafted clue. I also enjoyed SACRAMENTO for the Rolling Stone misdirection and LESSONS for its silliness, as well as others posted above.

  17. Andrew says:

    Good thinking Robi: if 13d had been something like “Tell singer to get a dish” then your reading would be perfect :)

  18. muffin says:

    Thanks Andrew and Orlando
    I found this quite easy, as I am the right age to pick up the references to the songs, performers, actors etc. – I imagine it would have been a lot harder for younger solvers.

    I don’t think any one has said this already, Andrew – 26ac is a more specific reference; LOON is what North Americans call the birds known as DIVERS in Britain (Black-throated, Red-Throated, Great Northern etc.)

  19. Ian Payn says:

    Understatement is a very good word to describe Orlando’s MO. He is never flashy, and always sound. Even his use of a theme, like today, isn’t “in yer face”. Sacramento, as has been pointed out, is indeed a song (not a very good one, if truth be told). Is there not a Leonard Cohen song called Marianne? This is a bit of a reach, and both are, I think, co-incidences rather than thematic.

  20. muffin says:

    Ian Payn @ 19
    Leonard Cohen’s song is “So long, Marianne”

  21. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Lovely puzzle. I could pick a number of favourite clues today, but AS TIME GOES BY, ENCORE, LESSONS and PUTSCH will do for a start. The trip round singers and songs was a bonus. Bravo, Orlando.

    This sense of PEACH was new to me – here in Derbyshire it’s DOB ON.

    TARN is indeed a northern word; I have many happy childhood memories of picnics at Talkin Tarn in the Lake District. Checking it out online, I find that as Gervase confirms, TARN is of Norse origin; but Talkin is from the Celtic word ‘Talcan’, meaning ‘brow of a hill’. If I remember well, very few Celtic words have survived into Modern English, although those that have tend to be landscape features, like AVON for ‘river’. I think (the river) Thames is also from the Celtic, but I could be wrong.

    Thanks to Andrew for blogging.

  22. Mitz says:

    Thanks Orlando and Andrew.

    Simply, and apparently effortlessly, gorgeous.

  23. Alan says:

    Enjoyed this puzzle. Thanks to setter and blogger. Not sure if it was intended, but of course Sumac is also the stage name of the multi-octave Peruvian Yma.

  24. Kriscros says:

    Thank you Andrew for the blog and Orlando for a pleasing and sonorous puzzle.

    I enjoyed both the trip down memory lane and the lovely surfaces.

  25. muck says:

    Thanks Andrew and Orlando

    I had AUROCHS at 1ac which almost works (animals from a cold era, Austria rocks) but it made 2dn impossible.

  26. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    A superb puzzle from Orlando that was right up my street. So many good clues but 1,20 is definitely my clue of the day
    closely followed by TATUM. Many thanks Orlando.

  27. Martin P says:

    Thanks all.

    Sue and I were impressed by the quiet, neat elegance of this excellent puzzle.

    Well set, Orlando.

  28. Dewey says:

    Did anyone mention the M’s and F’s? Significant? Mia Farrow. Marianne Faithful(l). Microscope Foster. For Fine Melba?

    First in was Ness for Mormon’s Last (n) seen by “ess” or “s” for salt. Made SW a challenge.

  29. Huw Powell says:

    Loved the theme. Ticked off many clues. Thanks Orlando and Andrew!

  30. Samui Pete says:

    Lovely indeed especially 12 16 and 17. Thanks all

  31. Rolf says:

    In respect of @9, @15, @21: I would have thought that
    *everyone* would be familiar with the word “tarn” from reading
    Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

seven − = 6