Posted by beermagnet on March 16th, 2013
This puzzle had a enormous range of difficulty.
The short clues somehow stood out when I first glanced at the puzzle, and as they were eminently gettable double-defs, oddly enough the top right corner of the grid was tackled first. A few other easy clues also fell quite quickly.
I really enjoyed the middle section of solving – a few more clues were solved with a decent fillip (oojamaflip indeed), others were teased out satisfactorily. At some point I had fully completed the right hand side, but soon after that came to a complete halt with six unanswered, hereafter known as the “hard last half dozen”.
So I slept on it. Have another go tomorrow. Had another go the next day. And the next day. And so on. No joy.
Then I was concerned: The reality of not completing the puzzle after a week and having a ragged blog looked quite real so I knuckled down with all resources at my disposal, books, internet etc., to get those last few. They didn’t give up the struggle easily.
I should have known. I have had trouble with Monk puzzles in the past. So Monk, shall I curse you or thank you?
Well, I have now learnt several new words and far too much about twistor theory and slave-raiding ants so that’s got to be good.
So: Cheers, Monk.
Inevitably there are a few loose ends and holes in the explanations below.
|9||IRRITANCY||Caught in New York by Irish girl’s annoying quality (9)
IR[ish] RITA (girl) C[aught] in N[ew] Y[ork]
|10||RIOJA||Drink mainly after port wine (5)
JA[r] Drink mainly, RIO port
|11||SCALADO||Mount and enter with this small-scale difficulty (7)
SCAL[e] (small scale) ADO (difficulty) Not sure about this parsing. Last of the difficult last half dozen. Took a bit of Chambers and other dictionary bashing to find this and I’m still a bit dubious as I’m not totally happy with either the definition or the wordplay. Nothing else is going to fit though
|12||RHUBARB||Fruit rot (7)
First clue read and answered. This short clue beckoned me when I glanced at the puzzle and turned out to be a gettable double-def. leading to 8D
|13||ASPIC||Ending of Marlowe’s thriller that’s clear? (5)
Aspic is clear but what is the Marlowe thiller … I can’t find it in The Big Sleep or The Long Goodbye
|15||ASSISTANT||Helping fool with present that’s not new (9)
ASS fool I[n]STANT present without a N[ew]
|17||ACRIMONIOUSLY||Bitterly worked out our alimony [sic] (13)
(OUT ALIMONY SIC)* AInd: worked out
|19||AMAZON ANT||Dominant woman essentially wants dominant social worker (6,3)
AMAZON (Dominant woman) [w]ANT[s] A ferocious ant. Initially pencilled in Dragon Ant – well it’s possible?
|21||HIPPO||Thick-skinned type informed on a Tellytubby (5)
A Hippo has thick skin, the Teletubby is Po, but how is HIP ‘informed on’?
|23||TWISTOR||Something complex is ultimately cut in two by razor’s edge (7)
IS [cu]T inside TWO, then R[azor] ‘Something complex’ seems to me to be a vague definition to give for something that not many people night have heard of. Only after teasing the word from the wordplay (with the great help of all the crossing letters) and googling it did I feel confident this was the answer. I then lost another couple of hours reading up on Twistor Theory – am I any the wiser now? Possibly
|25||GNOMIST||Writer of pithy sayings announced “all clear”, perhaps (7)
Homophone “No mist”
|27||MOLAR||Up-front Mayor of London announced rates that could be capped (5)
First letters from Mayor Of London Announced Rates A molar is something that could be capped, but you’d have to take out a mortgage or be as rich as Boris to get a decent crown on a tooth these days
|28||AGITATION||Stirring comedian once working on Laugh-In‘s alternate spots (9)
lAuGh In [Jacques] TATI (comedian, once) ON
|1||MIASMA||Bad atmosphere as Missoni initially dons rejected design (6)
AS M[issoni] inside (dons) AIM< (design) backwards (rejected)
|2||URSA||Treasurer skinned bear (4)
[b]URSA[r] From the latin as in constellations e.g. Ursa major / Great Bear
|3||STRACCHINO||Wasted cold rations, eating last bits of Dutch cheese (10)
(C[old] RATIONS [dut]CH)* AInd: Wasted. Not Dutch but Italian cheese
|4||INTONACO||Enthusiastic about a company introducing new surface for painting (8)
INTO (Enthusiastic) N[ew] A CO[mpany] One of the difficult last half dozen and another where I’m not fully sure I have the right wordplay (‘about’ is spare the way I have it), and another that required dictionary support
|5||CYPRUS||Island tree by sound (6)
Homophone “Cypress” often handsome tree
|6||FRAU||Jaguar F1 partly going round other half of Hockenheimring? (4)
Hidden reversed in jagUAR F1 – the other half – wife – in German
|7||OOJAMAFLIP||Thingummy loves squash and a rich drink (10)
OO loves; JAM squash; A FLIP a rich drink
|8||RABBIT||Gas an animal (6)
Second clue read and answered. Double-def.
|14||PICCALILLI||Relish verbal order to pluck a flower? (10)
Homophone “Pick a lily” Marvellous, marvellous foodstuff
|16||SOUTH-POLAR||Antarctic troops haul up (5-5)
(TROOPS HAUL)* AInd: up
|18||INTAGLIO||One mostly gloating about depressed figures? (8)
I (one) (GLOATIN[g])* AInd: about. Clever carving
|19||ASTHMA||With which one can’t draw properly (6)
CD ‘Tis difficult to draw breath during an asthma attack. Cryptic defs often fool me so I was particular pleased to get this when I finally thought of ‘draw’ in the correct sense. One of the “hard last half dozen” for me but seems easy when you know the answer.
|20||AIRGAP||Circuit breaker‘s almost open, beginning to increase resistance internally (6)
I[ncrease] R[esistance] inside AGAP[e] (almost open) Surely this should be AIR GAP and enumerated (3,3)? As a result I had rejected that solution the first time I derived it from the wordplay. First of the hard last half dozen to fall.
|22||OCTANS||More than one star acts on Sorry! (6)
(ACTS ON)* AInd: Sorry. One of the last I got before getting stuck. Initially tried that anagram to no avail. Needed all crossing letters before I remembered this southern sky constellation (right near the astronomical south pole) and discovered it was that anagram fodder all along.
|24||TORR||Height of rubbish mounted either side of river (4)
ROT (rubbish) reversed (mounted) around R[iver] A Torr is an old unit of pressure equal to 1 mm of Mercury. Another obscure and indeed historical scientific concept
|26||IN IT||Enjoying success, bounded endlessly (2,2)