Quick Cryptic 2376 by Rongo: Circling Over Shannon

This QC shouldn’t scare the horses, middle of the road time for me. Well- balanced with good surfaces.

The last Down clue requires a synonym for “drunk”.  The book Intoxerated claims to have 2,985 synonyms for various states of intoxication, and is the Guiness Book of Record holder for most synonyms. Favorite: “Boris Yeltsinned”, and “Circling Over Shannon

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Dire straits engulfing one ironic writer (8)
SATIRIST – Anagram (dire) of (STRAITS)* + I
5 Loving but discovered to have no heart (4)
FOND – FO[u]ND (discovered) without the middle letter (heart)

FOND as an adjective for Loving, as in a “fond smile”

8 Imitation brooch with silver coating (5)
APING – PIN (brooch) surrounded by AG (silver)

This is actually a noun for imitation, from the verb “ape”. OED has as usage “a poor aping of conscientiousness”.

9 101 tons carried in true performance (7)
RECITAL -CI (101 in Roman Numerals) + T [ons] inside REAL (true)
11 Be dishonest, don’t be upstanding (3)
LIE – Double Def
12 Increase assuming variable follows in decimal units (9)
INTENSIFY – IN + TENS (decimal units) + IF (assuming) + Y (variable)
13 Importance of announcement of delay (6)
WEIGHT – Homophone (announcement of) for WAIT (delay)
15 Reverse of label the woman’s to pull into folds of fabric (6)
GATHER – TAG (label) reversed + HER (woman’s)

The definition is very precise, taking 6 full words.

18 Little program relating to energy growth that’ll bear fruit (5,4)
APPLE TREE – APPLET (little program) + RE (relating to) + E[nergy]

I though APP was enough for a little program, so was missing a clue for LET. LET can be appended on to many English nouns, and is our diminutive suffix, like “ette” in French. There’s a great Wikipedia page on this.

19 Large container merely overturned (3)
TUB – BUT (merely) reversed
20 Hollow stamens inside a flower or flowers (7)
BLOSSOM – S[tamen]S inside BLOOM (flower)

“Hollow” here is yet another way of indicating the first and last letters of a word. I was looking for flower=river.

21 A regret about golf dispute (5)
ARGUE – A + RUE (regret) containing G[olf]

RUE is a very common short word in cryptics, worth remembering.

22 European getting rid of good or bad smell (4)
REEK – [G]reek (European) with G[ood] removed.

Greek, clued by “European” appeared in the QC yesterday as well.

23 Extremes in formal use, not likely how a native speaks? (8)
FLUENTLY – F[orma]L + U[s]E + N[o]T + L[ikel]Y first and last letters indicated by “extremes”

I got the FL quickly before noticing that “extremes” should be applied to four words not just the first.

1 Bird needing second mudbath? (7)
SWALLOW – S[econd] + WALLOW (mudbath)
2 Journey east is rubbish (5)
TRIPE – TRIP(journey) + E[ast]
3 Wild horses using rascally quality (11)
ROGUISHNESS – Anagram (wild) of (HORSES USING)*

Got stuck in trying to make something starting with ROUGH.

4 A topless pie’s rising layers (6)
STRATA – A + TARTS (pies) reversed in a down clue (rising)
6 Nothing stumped affluent person who ignores problems? (7)
OSTRICH – O + ST[umped] + RICH (affluent)

ST for stumped is the abbreviation on a cricket scorecard.

The OED explains this one neatly:  the practice of thrusting its head into the sand or a bush when being overtaken by pursuers, supposedly through an incapacity to distinguish between seeing and being seen.

7 Hold up Ecstasy to be swallowed by crazy lady (5)
DELAY – Anagram (crazy) of (LADY)* containing E[cstasy]
10 Surprisingly neat once holding puss’s string together (11)
CONCATENATE -Anagram (surprisingly) of (NEAT ONCE)* containing CAT (puss)

I like this word, which comes from CATENA (latin for Chain), hence Catenary, the curve formed by a hanging chain.

14 Earnestly request collection of elf stories? (7)
IMPLORE – Whimsical definition: IMP (elf) + LORE (collection of stories)

Very clever and my COD, we have animal lore, bird lore, fairy lore so why not imp lore? At my primary school the class names were : Fairies, Imps, Nymphs, Elves, Pixies, Gnomes, Sprites and Brownies. So imps were not equal to elves.

16 Mugging of bishop wearing vestment on railway (7)
ROBBERY – ROBE (vestment) containing B[ishop] + RY (railway)
17 Description of furious screams from friend clutching edge (6)
PRIMAL – PAL (friend) containing RIM (edge)

Primal Scream are a Scottish rock band from the 1980s,  the band took their name from a psychology book published in 1970.

18 Fossilised resin found in Cookham Berkshire (5)
AMBER – Hidden inside Cookham Berkshire

Very pretty village on the Thames.

19 Drunk on leaving this evening (5)
TIGHT – T[on]IGHT (this evening)

And of the 2985 possibly synonyms, we get this decidedly PG Wodehouse one.

73 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2376 by Rongo: Circling Over Shannon”

  1. Just like Merlin, I wondered at first how to account for LET in APPLE TREE, and like Merlin, I applied ‘extremes’ only to FormaL; I actually biffed FLUENTLY and only saw the light after submitting. 7:57.

  2. 8:44 Everything followed along smoothly, pretty well giving a top to bottom solve. I thought a BLOSSOM was just one flower so didn’t understand the “flowers” definition until I looked up its possible meanings. I enjoyed IMPLORE and INTENSIFY most.

  3. ☕️☕️☕️+
    On the basis that a coffee lasts me about 10 minutes, this was a three-coffee+ job for me this morning.
    I’m just a tad concerned that others so far have found this rather easy as it was a real slog for me. However, I did eventually work out CONCATENATE which is a word I’ve never even heard of, so I was pleased with that! I was defeated in the end by PRIMAL and INTENSIFY so was awarded no time. Had I been I am sure I’d have been placed well outside the Slow Coach Club, if there is such a lowly company. (Maybe the ☕️☕️☕️ Club!)
    All in all undone by a few very hard clues. On the bright side, it’s a lovely sunny morning here in Dorsetshire and there is at last a real hint of spring in the air 😊

    1. Dear Mr Ittt,
      Mrs Random and I extend our sympathies re: CONCATENATE. Anyhow, 30+ minutes is where some of us reside most of the time. Nice to hear about Daarrzzet, especially as I will be visiting my elderly parents in Christchurch on Thursday and Friday.

      1. Dear Mr Random Chap, thank you very much for your and Mrs Random’s kind thoughts. I was beginning to think that I was perhaps the only person never to have encountered the word CONCATENATE, despite having used Excel in some depth during my working life.
        I tend to hover around the 20-30 minute mark, but then I don’t hurry. I really enjoy my early morning QC ritual and try to savour every clue and check carefully that it’s correct. A bit like a full English breakfast, I won’t bolt it. Occasionally I surprise myself and come in under 20 minutes, once or twice under 15 minutes even, but then I feel a little cheated if I’m honest. But I’ll always slog on to the bitter end whatever the time. (My slowest was around 90 minutes.)
        I hope you and Mrs Random Chap enjoy your stay in Christchurch, ‘Where Time is Pleasant’, so the council tells us. I shall be visiting Tile Giant and B&Q there on Thursday afternoon, if I’ve finished the crossword.

        1. Dear Is that the time,
          Given that it appears we will only be a mile apart when you go tile/DIY shopping, and if you have a spare half-hour or so, would you be interested in meeting up over a coffee (or similar) somewhere in Christchurch town centre tomorrow afternoon? If so, just reply here and we can make the arrangements by continuing this message trail.
          All the best, SomeRandomChap.

          1. Dear Mr Random Chap. What a splendid idea. How about 3pm at Costa in Saxon Square? The weather looks set fair so we could sit outside if there is space. I will see you there unless I hear otherwise.
            You will recognise me as I will be wearing a suit and tie having just come from a wedding in the New Forest.
            I look forward to meeting up with a fellow QCSC to discuss QC methodology.

            1. OK, good plan. I will turn up at 3pm tomorrow. I won’t be wearing a suit, but you should easily recognise me. I’m just some random chap, after all.

  4. I had Excel to thank for CONCATENATE. Will be have VLOOKUP tomorrow? A respectable five on the first pass of acrosses but I knew there were some I passed over that were going to cause me trouble – and INTENSIFY duly did. WEIGHT did too, so simple once you get it but I passed over E in each of my alphabet trawls until it finally came to me. Started well, then faded to end up all green in 16. Good one!

    1. CONCATENATE also familiar to me from Excel, an extremely useful function from my days when Excelling was a way to pay the bills and mortgage! I rarely play with it now, but the answer brought back memories.

    2. Not sure about VLOOKUP, but we do “parse” every day – something that was often required with data dumps into Excel.

  5. 8 minutes, so after a very patchy (sometimes disastrous) period of targets missed over recent weeks I am building quite a decent run of targets achieved and am now up to 5 which is the equivalent of a whole week. Of course saying that has probably jinxed it now.

    I also knew CONCATENATE from Excel as I relied heavily on the function in my work as a data analyst. The reverse process was fun too.

    1. The excel command doesn’t do much that an ampersand won’t do, and takes a lot of typing.

  6. Excellent puzzle with just enough chewiness to get the grey matter working.
    I knew of WOD CONCATENATE but had no idea what it meant (I clearly need to brush up on my Excel skills) so had one of those lovely PDMs when I saw what was going on. Intensify also needed a bit of thought before it revealed itself.
    Started with SATIRIST and finished with OSTRICH in 8.06 with COD to IMPLORE and an unparsed APPLE TREE.
    Thanks to Merlin

  7. A DNF for an enjoyable and not too difficult puzzle, carelessly bunging in “intensity” at 12a after seeing ‘variable follows’ and ‘in decimal units’ and thinking “That’s easy”. My excuse is I was too pleased with myself after spotting APPLET for ‘Little program’ and seeing CONCATENATE straight away, a word I too only know thanks to Access, Excel etc.

    Maybe I’m being too cynical but I read “Very pretty village on the Thames” (in Berkshire) and my first thought is “Can the locals still afford to live there?”.

    Thanks to Rongo and Merlin

  8. WOE again, having put STRATI (Italian) rather than STRATA. My only excuse is that an entire lesson of the Italian course I did in the 1980s was taken up with girls asking the vocabulary for how to get their hair cut. “A strati” (in layers) has never left me.

    08:51 and a Bad Day.

    Many thanks Rongo and the Wizard.


  9. A very good, approachable QC. I managed a smooth, anti-clockwise solve and many answers just dropped out given crossers. I did spend just enough time to parse the answers*** – a good job I did because I nearly came to grief with intensity (on the basis of the crossers) instead of INTENSIFY having been lulled into a false sense of my biffing ability by Rongo.
    I finished 4 mins under target at 11.03 so I was under 1.5K which is very pleasing for me.
    Thanks to Rongo and Merlin. John M.
    *** Oops, I told a porkie here. I just realised that I didn’t parse APPLE TREE.

  10. 11 minutes for an enjoyable puzzle BUT a pink square for IntensiTy. Careless, as I knew it was probably wrong but put it in anyway for the checkers, meant to go back to it at the end and of course forgot to. Otherwise straightforward enough though like some others I did not parse Apple Tree.

    An initial query at Merely = But which I initially thought not a close enough synonym: I see I have used the word “but” several times in this posting and merely cannot be used for any of them. But on further reflection I accepted the link, so this is “but” (or “merely”) a minor comment.

    Many thanks to Merlin for the blog

  11. 9.22 WOE

    Never heard of CONCATENATE so pencil and paper was needed. Thought there might be more moanage about that one as an obscurity (my eyebrows were twitching) but seems like I might be in a minority.

    My problem was an old “trap” I’ve fallen for loads of times. Despite pausing to convince myself that INTENSITY could match the definition as a noun I failed to consider the -fy ending. Checking the parsing might also have helped.

    Thanks Rongo and Merlin

  12. 4:25 but…

    …bunged in a hasty INTENSITY which somehow converted the first T to an S and of course, was wrong anyway, so two pinks. Otherwise, this was very comfortable, even CONCATENATE went in without a fuss.

    Thanks Rongo and Merlin

  13. A sniff over average difficulty for me – more in line with my year-to-date mean than median.

    I liked IMPLORE and ROGUISHNESS. CONCATENATE gleaned from spreadsheets (as others it seems), INTENSIFY was LOI after (thankfully) I checked the parsing of INTENSITY carefully.


  14. Sadly I didn’t check the parsing of INTENSITY either so I’m joining the community with a pink square in 16:24. Like Cedric I had meant to revisit this at the end. Otherwise a nice QC which went in fairly steadily from top to bottom and left to right. FOI SWALLOW, LOI FLUENTLY.Thanks Merlin and Rongo.

  15. NHO CONCATENATE, so needed CCD. Also carelessly biffed Intensity.
    Otherwise enjoyed the puzzle. Liked FOND, DELAY, GATHER, WEIGHT, FLUENTLY, STRATA, PRIMAL and OSTRICH (COD). So lots of good clues, though obviously I was not keen on 10d.
    Cd not parse APPLE TREE.
    Thanks vm, Merlin.

  16. Had MER for 17d PRIMAL until I saw this blog so thanks for that.
    3d wild horses using, I just couldn’t believe there were enough Ns Es and Ss to follow ROUGISH, but there they are, plain as plain.
    Thoroughly misled by 20a BLOSSOM as I thought the hollow stamens were something to do with the def. DOH!

  17. Enjoyable, but DNF as NHO Primal Scream (or APPLET) and missed a few others (20, 23, hence both 19s). I too am guilty of INTENSITY, but managed CONCATENATE without too much trouble. FOI TRIPE; COD OSTRICH. Thanks Rongo and Merlin.

  18. 6.02. A minute over target, so just a little bit chewy for me. All fair and enjoyable though. Nearly fell into the INTENSITY trap but thankfully thought twice about it. Thanks Merlin and setter.

  19. Another one here who went for INTENSITY even though I had an unease about the parsing. My LOI was CONCATENATE as it was a word I’ve not come across before, and I was pleased to see it was correct as I so often choose the wrong option on anagrams when the word is not known to me.
    I crossed the line in 9.38 which surprised me, as I felt I was solving it more swiftly than that, but in the end undone by INTENSIFY.

  20. I was also one minute over target, held up by the crossing pair of GATHER and OSTRICH, and slow on IMPLORE and REEK. However, I missed the -TY trap in 12a, and parsed everything including the APPLET, so I’m not unhappy. Thanks Rongo and Merlin.

  21. A nice easy one for me again. CONCATENATON went straight in, known from early computing days when we used concatenation cables to string computers together to connect them to a modem. SATIRIST was FOI and ROGUISHNESS brought up the rear.6:40. Thanks Rongo and Merlin.

  22. As an accountant my go to spreadsheet program is Excel but I still had trouble working out my LOI CONCATENATE. I was also slow on ROGUISHNESS and INTENSIFY but managed an on target solve in the Mallorcan sunshine. 8:35 for a good day.

  23. Red squares all over the place (virtual ones presumably as I solve on paper!). Fell into the intensity trap despite not being able to fully parse it and also had strati for strata. Also I was baffled by 5ac so in the end, and looking at the wrong end of the clue, I put in ‘cold’, which of course I could not parse. I managed the bits which some found tricky with no great problem, as I knew concatenate and applet and the expression primal scream. All in all a very poor day for what was not I think a particularly difficult xword.

    FOI – 8ac APING
    LOI – 13ac WEIGHT
    COD – 14dn IMPLORE

  24. Foiled like many above by carelessly biffing intensity… otherwise a steady 14 min trot around the grid. Needed the blog to parse APPLE TREE. Knew CONCATENATE without knowing it’s precise meaning. Liked PRIMAL and SATIRIST. Many thanks all.

  25. 10 mins so double yesterday. Held up by ostrich, intensity, concatenate, and LOI fond.
    COD Implore.

  26. Initially had Intensity but didn’t like the definition and then luckily saw Intensify, although my logic was the variable ‘if Y’. Thanks Merlin for explaining ‘assuming’
    LOI was Strata which needed an alphabet trawl to finish in 46m.
    COD to Tight which I biffed then parsed with a smile.
    Thanks Rongo, great puzzle as was yesterday’s from Trelawney.

  27. 9.21 I did put INTENSITY but corrected myself. Years spent in software meant that CONCATENATE went straight in. The only hold-up was a minute spent on my LOI OSTRICH. Thanks both.

  28. Dnf…

    Made a bit of a hash of this after yesterday’s success. Overall, I completed it in 23 mins, but put in “Intensity” for 12ac (like many others) and got the wrong end of the stick for 5ac and inserted “Cold” (admittedly, I wasn’t sure, as I couldn’t parse it).

    Lots to like though.

    FOI – 11ac “Lie”
    LOI – 12ac “Intensity” (incorrectly)
    COD – 10dn “Concatenate” – another one who got this from using Excel,

    Thanks as usual!

  29. 10:15 (1015 St Olaf becomes King of Norway. King Cnut of Denmark invades England).
    Almost a top to bottom solve. I liked CONCATENATE, a word I used a lot in my computer programming days. IMPLORE was my favourite.

    Thanks Rongo and Merlin.

  30. An enjoyable solve for me. 30 minutes precisely, so neither quick nor slow. Just about right, in fact (Goldilocks’ pace?). I enjoyed the way FLUENTLY was composed, and it was nice to see APPLE TREE and BLOSSOM now that Spring has arrived.

    I found success more quickly in the lower half of the grid, so all of my last six clues in were near the top. My final two were TRIPE and APING, which is the only word I don’t like in the whole puzzle.

    Mrs Random zoomed through 25 clues and then ground to a halt with CONCATENATE. I can’t remember her ever not knowing a word that I already knew, although there have been hundreds of such instances the other way around. She did, in the end, plump for the correct solution, but it ruined an otherwise storming performance. I offered my sympathies.

    Many thanks to Rongo and Merlin.

      1. Yes, I was, but I still didn’t secure today’s family point. It so rarely comes my way.

  31. Nice puzzle completed over two sessions. I am usually wary of Rongo’s offerings, but was pleasantly surprised that with a fair bit of pencil work it was completed without major problems anywhere. I looked hard at 12a but the ‘if Y’ decided that for me.
    FOI 1a satirist
    LOI 10d concatenate (I have never used this expression in spreadsheets – either excel or numbers – but recognised it from the wp)
    COD 9a recital

  32. Sneaked down the LHS waiting for something lurking in the undergrowth which never sprang out. Almost fell into the Intensity trap but opted for the ….FY at the last minute. Ended up quite nicely with my head in the sand to avoid the SCC with a minute or two to spare despite having to negotiate on drywall and stucco to repair some large gaping holes.
    Thanks Rongo for a gentle Tuesday.

  33. Lovely QC and good for teaching the “everyone knows” QC translations (e.g. label = tag, railway = ry).

    Loved seeing CONCATENATE, I think I last used this word in 1976, programming in ALGOL68 on a Burroughs machine (!!)

  34. This was one of those puzzles that recently would have had me in a stew, with a few tricky words. Today however I was reasonably methodical and came out around the 23 min mark, a result I will happily accept. Slightly surprised that so many found it straightforward as it was, for me, chewy in places. Needless to say, NHO CONCATENATE, so chuffed to work it out. Signs of progress overall.

    Thanks as always for the excellent blog.

  35. DNF

    22:08 so over time anyway but put INTENSITY instead of INTENSIFY. Silly mistake. Otherwise held up by OSTRICH and never parsed APPLE TREE.

    Edit: on reading the comments it’s good to see so many others fell for the INTENSITY trap!

    1. Dear DearHector,
      I did get INTENSIFY right, but only after having the well-known INTENSIon written in for 20+ minutes. Fortunately, INTENSItY never occurred to me.

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