23,841 – pangrammatic poser

Solving time:23 minutes when unwisely solved late last night. I thnk it should have taken about 15. Lots of fiendish clues – it was quite hard to find a few to miss out. Given the inventiveness I didn’t mind a few off-the-wall ideas like ‘irkz’.

9 A,P(e)OPLE,X,Y – X,Y for axes makes amice change from ‘unknown quiantities’
10 OPT(I)MA – opt = plump = choose (plump really needs ‘for’ but you also ‘opt for’ something rather than opt it.
13 LIKE=admire,BILLY=kid,-O=old. Billy = kid is a reference to Billy the Kid rather than anything to do with oats, I think.
16 JAVELIN – live* in Jan.=’the New Year’. Good surface suggesting a concert from Vienna or maybe some ski-jumping.
17 K(ITCH)EN – ken as in ‘outside my ken’ is a range of knowledge, and an itch can be said to ‘burn’.
20 B(LIT,ZKRI=”irks” rev.)EG – to settle on a place from above (like a fly) is to ‘light’.
22 L,ARK – CD referring to the noun of assembly “an exaltation of larks”
23 LITTLE NELL – an orphan in Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop. LE or EL in (till lent)*
25 IN=’with it’,DEED
26 BASS CLEF – S in cables*, then F=following. As it happens, a bass clef is a fancy version of a letter F – the note on the stave with the two dots around it. Likewise, a treble clef is a fancy G, and the tenor and alto clefs are fancy C’s.
27 F(O,G.B.)OUND – I understand the query below about pea soup vs. pea-souper, but I got the meaning when solving.
2 A,M.(PHIB=”fib”,I)A
4 TRAVEL-SICK – V in (a stickler)*. A nicely done clue as others have said already.
7 BE,FELL – a reference to “I do not love thee, Doctor fell” – of which you can read the full story here.
8 EYES DOWN – CD relating this bingo instruction to the possibility of yelling “house!” if you win.
14 (si)BLING-(si)BLLING – congratulations to those who spotted the wordplay here – it had me well stumped.
15 LOCAL RADIO – (radical)* in LOO = small room – another COD contender
16 JOB CLUBS – CD ref. “being placed” = getting a job.
19 GIVE = compromise,OFF = deferred. I think ‘give’ and ‘compromise’ can be verbs here as well as nouns
21 I(Q)T,EST

28 comments on “23,841 – pangrammatic poser”

  1. Excellent stuff! Spotting the potential pangram got me out of a hole in the NE corner as I was expecting an X to turn up,and sure enough it did at 9A.

    Several candidates for COD: 22(still had ARK fresh in my mind from yesterday otherwise it might have foxed me for longer), 26A (I liked the use of “shower” here), but I’m going for 8D.

    I don’t fully understand 14D yet, and can “fog” really = “pea soup”? I remember pea-soupers and wonder if the -er can be omitted to mean the same thing.

  2. I agree another first class puzzle that took me the best part of an hour. I haven’t yet worked out BLING either but at 27A the dictionary gives pea-soup=fog. I think 20A is B-LIT-ZKRI-EG in which case IRKZ is being used as a homophone for “irks”, which I’m not desperately keen on. I had a lot of ticks next to clues and particularly liked 23A, 26A, 3D, 16D but my favourite is 4D with its clever use of “recycling”, “bottles” and “green on transport”. Jimbo.
  3. I assume it’s (SI)BLING. I think -ZKRI- is taking partial homophones much too far. Some really imaginative clues, however, enjoyable stuff overall.
  4. Thanks anon I think you must be correct. But that raises the issue of “expensive”. Collins says “flashy” “glitzy” but nothing about expensive and I had personally thought that BLING was cheap and showy. Jimbo.
    1. Yes, me too. But Chambers (2003) gives (for bling bling) ‘jewellery, esp. of a large and conspicuous style; conspicuous wealth’ – so I suppose that just about covers it. I think we can assume this was the work of one of the ‘brat pack’ setters – wouldn’t the old guard have insisted on an apostrophe in ‘couples venue’?
      1. You must be as old as I am. I long ago stopped cribbing about such standards in the Times. Jimbo.
  5. The belters just keep coming thick and fast! Yet another great crossword and, hopefully, my first complete one of the week (please tell me that 19d is GIVE OFF). My COD nom goes to 4dn, though 9a and 16a are worthy of a special mention. “Shower” in 26a reminded me of my favourite clue ever – Use shower for things like washing up? (5,5)
  6. Lots of great stuff here, COD 4D – outstanding construction. It was a long struggle for me and after 30 minutes my brain collapsed with the 22/18 pairing not filled in.
    I’d agree the better def for BLING-BLING would have referred to its tackiness; this type of jewellery, although ostentatious, is typically bought from the Elizabeth Duke range at Argos.
    19D is GIVE OFF. “Give” is “compromise”, i.e. a noun. Very deceptive, this one, the last answer I placed before coming unstuck.
  7. 58 minutes, and in the end I got LORD for 22 (without knowing how it fitted) and that was clearly wrong.

    I don’t get why LIT in 20a is “settled”, and I can’t see why “you” is in the clue for 9a. I don’t really see what’s cryptic about 17a either unless I’m missing something. Any suggestions for these?

    In addition to the clues already highlighted I liked 11, but agree with 4 for COD.

    1. 22.L=left and “couples venue” is ARK, where the animals went in in couples. An exaltation of larks is the collective noun.
      20a. To light from a bus is to get off it
      9a. A P(s)OPLE + XY – axes on a graph, not what you chop wood with. Put them all together and that “gets you” fit.
      17a I think is a (pretty poor) cryptic def.

      Is the definition for 21d missing? I don’t think it works as an &lit.

      1. 17A – I read this as ITCH (something burning) in KEN (range [of knowledge]).
        Thanks for LARK – it also cleared up 18D for me and this latter one resulted in a big self-kick.
        21 is possibly questionable. It’s Q in IT + EST, but I can’t imagine an IQ test featuring questions in/about Latin.
      2. I agree with you. There is no real definition. It’s another example of sloppiness, which is a great pity in such a good overall puzzle. Jimbo.
        1. I think the question mark in the IQ TEST clue answers the query – just about. I’ve never done an IQ test with a Latin question in it, but it isn’t unreasonable to suppose that one might exist somewhere 🙂
          1. Before I became retired and boring I once spent some time involved with IQ tests. At the time the issue was “what do they prove other than how good one is at doing IQ tests?” “Is it fair to test a poorly educated person using language they may not understand?” A lot of work has since been done, I believe, to overcome these inherent problems and I think now an IQ test in Latin would only be a fair assessment of a native Latin speaker. Jimbo.
            1. Without wishing to labour the point, one could have a question in an IQ test in Latin which did not necessarily need knowledge of Latin to be understood.
              For example, in a multiple choice:
              Q: QUID EST VERITAS?

              A: SEMPER FIDELES
              C: IN NOMINE PATRI
              D: EST VIR QUI ADEST
              E: RIGOR MORTIS

  8. Last week and this has just been a long succession of very hard crosswords! I know you experts will be savouring them, but it’s pretty demoralizing for newer xwders to find day after day with only a couple filled in…

    Some balance in any given week, mixing up the hard and the easy, would be nice!

    1. I’m sure the xwd ed wants to cater for newer solvers, but when he’s getting such inventive puzzles it must seem a shame to remove the clever stuff. We did have a pretty easy week at the beginning of the month, and I’m sure some easier puzzles will be along soon. If it’s any consolation, my early goes at the Times puzzle were at the ‘only a couple filled in on a hard day’ level too. I had to defect to the Grauniad and get a few years of practice before I came back and finally got the knack of Times puzzles. (Not necessarily the best method now – that was 30 years ago…)
  9. Further thoughts on IQ TEST and ‘irkz’

    I think I’m happy with both – as the wordplay takes the whole clue, IQ TEST is clearly intended as an &lit, which I think works as long as you see the def as a jokey one. “irks” works to indicate ‘irkz’, because of that rule about voiced and unvoiced consonant clusters. As the k in irkz is unvoiced, so is the z, which therefore sounds like an s. (Opposite example: the gs in “Bugsy” – the voiced versions of the same pair, with the s sounding like a z.)

    1. It seems rather far-fetched to me. We’re asked to find a string of letters which, when pronounced, will sound like a word meaning ‘worries’. That opens up a very large field: there are several synonyms for ‘worries’, and even if ‘irks’ is selected there are several ways to make its sound. I would think of URKS and ERKS first of all and might never arrive at IRKZ, which contains a letter sequence not found in English. Because the rest of the clue isn’t too difficult, ZKRI can be worked back to, but I’m not sure that justifies this type of wordplay.
  10. Wow. That is some puzzle. Took an hour before work, and kept going back to it, inching along through some very deceptive clues. Confess to not finishing, missing 9A due to failing to catch the ‘axes, as in a graph’ clue, which is very clever. Despite all the brain wringing, this was an extremely enjoyable puzzle. My favorite is ‘blitzkrieg’, despite its being ‘irkzome’ to others. Regards all.
  11. Missed IQ TEST, and didn’t spot the pangram or else I would have gotten it. D’oh. There were some very very nice (and tricky) clues in here, as everyone is saying.
  12. I thought it was an excellent puzzle too, very tough. The IRKZ was unusual but no complaints as the correct answer was unambiguous. Some tip-top clues as others have remarked.
  13. Really good crossword, but this was the particular clue I ticked as COD, yet it clearly is not everyone’s favourite. If you can accept (a stretch, I know) that an IQ test might contain a Latin question, this is surely a beautiful clue.
  14. As Dan Quayle may or may not have said, “I visited Latin America recently, and I wished I’d studied Latin so I could talk to the people…”
  15. 15:20 for me. Another tough but most enjoyable puzzle. Fortunately I managed to restrain myself from putting in FOGHORNS for 27A; and after giving up rather too easily trying to work out the wordplay of RIGOLETTO yesterday, I stuck at BLING-BLING until I’d spotted “sibling”.

    I’ll go for 4D as my COD for the smile it gave me when the penny dropped.

  16. The US Oxford (which comes free with Mac OS X)gives:

    “bling-bling |ˈbli ng ˌbli ng |
    noun informal
    expensive, ostentatious clothing and jewelry, or the wearing of them : ‘behind the bling-bling: are diamonds worth it?’
    ORIGIN 1990s: perhaps imitative of light reflecting off jewelry, or of jewelry clashing together”.

    Another good reason to get a Mac; one other being Neville Smythe’s wonderful Crossword Assistant.


  17. An excellent tricky one. I had no problem with the backward IRKZ at 20a nor with the Latin IQ TEST &lit at 21d. However, I totally missed the collective noun for larks at 22a and the allusion to Noah’s couples venue = the “two-by-two” ARK. Nice one setter. You had me linking exaltation with Our Lord for L?R? but, in the end, I had to come here for enlightenment. Praise be.

    Just the 3 lonely “easies” not in the blog:

    12a Pronounced fit, he was done in before anyone else (4)
    ABEL. Not yet match fit? Who did he play for?

    6d Came to tWO KEnsington houses (4)

    24d Girl, thoroughly English, from the South (4)
    E LLA. ALL E(nglish) starting at the bottom and working up.

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