Times Jumbo 1152 – A Puzzle for Georges Perec

Posted on Categories Jumbo Cryptic
Solving time of 29:19, which is smack in the middle of the 25-35 minutes I usually expect to take on a Jumbo, so overall not of extreme difficulty, barring a couple of clues which seemed to belong in a different puzzle vocabulary-wise, but which were fairly clued (as the conversation with the setter might go “These words were rather obscure”; “Did you get the right answer?”; “Yes”; “So what’s your problem?”; “Fair enough”). More importantly, there were some quite beautifully crafted individual clues, for which the setter deserves great credit.

P.S. Having remembered to check the comments on the Crossword Club site (as I usually do in case I have omitted something obvious from the blog which has raised discussion amongst other solvers), I discover that one eagle-eyed member has spotted something very unusual, i.e. the complete absence of the letter E! Like pangrams, lipograms are the sort of thing which I regularly fail to spot, thus confirming the suspicion that they mainly entertain the setter and don’t actually add to or detract from the quality of a puzzle. That said, it’s certainly worthy of note…

With Jumbos, which attract a far smaller audience than daily puzzles, I generally confine myself to discussion of answers which I think are a) less straightforward for inexperienced or non-UK based solvers, or b) especially elegant / questionable. In other words, unless it’s an exceptionally interesting puzzle, the coverage is unlikely to be 100%; however, as always, if a particular clue is not discussed, please feel free to raise it in comments for explanation or discussion.

7 PSITTACOSIS – [SIT,TACO in IS] all in P.S. A disease mainly of parrots, but also people if you’re unlucky.
13 FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR – [RAN, COP then the two men RUSS and IAN, W{est}] all in FAR.
15 LOOFAH – (FOOL)rev., A H{ot}. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it.
16 RASPUTIN – [{T}SAR] rev., PUT IN. Brilliant surface.
19 NOSTALGIA – (LOTSAGAIN)* and another brilliant surface.
25 IRISH – IRIS(=”flag”) + H{earts}. For non-football followers, Hibernian and Hearts are the two big teams in Edinburgh, so this paints a terrific picture of people at a derby game.
31 STARTING PISTOL – (ITSATSPORTING)* next to L{ine} &lit.
34 TOING AND FROING – TO{pp}ING {c}AND{y} FRO{st}ING, each with two letters removed.
35 VARIORUM – AtRaItOr in V{ery} RUM; one of the obscurities for me; it’s a collection of manuscripts which differ in readings of a text.
38 DOG BISCUIT – DOG=follow, BISCUIT=Garibaldi, say. Good boy.
43 LAIR – (RIAL)rev., as that is the currency (“ready”) in Iran.
44 FILM NOIR – knock the ends off FIL{l} M{e} NO{w} IR{e} to get the dark film (i.e. “bleak projection”).
49 BARNABAS – BAR, NAB, A{ntioch} S{aint}. Marvellously, this is also an &lit., as Barnabas was connected strongly with Antioch.
53 NAAFI – aNzAcAfFaIr gives the organisation which provides canteens and other services to the British armed forces.
55 SATANICALLY – [AT AN I] in SCALLY. I always think that whereas a scallywag is an innocent young scamp, the modern scally is a bit more sinister.
1 SOFT LANDING – [OFT LAND] in SIN G{ood}; one of those economic terms heard a lot in recent times, describing how an economy can slow down without actually going into recession. If only…
2 BRAVO – In the NATO alphabet, birthday begins with “B”, which would be BRAVO.
4 NAPA – NAP + A; not a common word in my day to day life, but obvious from wordplay.
5 AHURA MAZDA – RAMA in pAsHtUnZoDiAc; a complete unknown to me, but I have to admit my knowledge of Zoroastrianism is limited. However, once I’d worked out the AHU__ __ZDA bit, and had checking letters, it was a question of knowing a Hindu god which would fit _A_A, so not impossible despite my ignorance.
9 TAROT CARD – T.A. ROT CARD; called the “hierophant” rather than Pope in my tarot deck, but again the wordplay is clear.
10 CORVID – VI in a CORD; a write-in if you know the Latin corvus.
11 SINFONIA ANTARTICA – (AFRANTICSONATINA)*; my delay here was caused by the mysterious absence of the C which I was expecting in ANTAR[C]TICA, but it’s not there in the Italian.
12 SACRIFICIAL – (CARSI)*, then dismiss the OF from OFFICIAL.
22 CRITIC – IT in CRIC{k}.
24 ASCIDIAN – ChIlD in ASIAN; another which came from wordplay alone.
26 HANDGRIP – HAND(=worker), GRIP{e}; “stock” as in “lock, stock and barrel”.
29 TRANSPORTATION – take the L{eft} in “translation” and replace it with the nautical left PORT.
32 GUARDIAN – (AID R.A.)rev. in GUN.
36 MONOCRYSTAL – MO(=second), (LASTCRONY)*; final one which I didn’t know but successfully deduced from wordplay.
37 CATCH A CRAB – R{iver} in CATCH A CAB; the sort of rowing done with oars – catching a crab is where your blade misses the water and you end up flat on your back in the boat – bad indeed.
46 AT A LOSS – [AT A L{eft} O{ver}] in ASS.
47 TITIAN – I{sland} in TITAN (one of which was Atlas). The particular sort of red which the artist was famous for.
49 BRAWL – BRAW(“fine for Scots” as in “it’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht” + L{ively}.
51 CHINO – CHINOOK minus the OK.
52 STUD – (DUTIES)rev. minus the I.E.

8 comments on “Times Jumbo 1152 – A Puzzle for Georges Perec”

  1. Lots of DNKs–4d, 27ac, 24d, 36d 55ac, but not,oddly enough 5d. I remember CATCH A CRAB from ‘Through the Lookingglass’, but I thought it was to fail to raise the oar out of the water in time; the sheep tells Alice to ‘feather’, i.e. hold the oar parallel to the water. Not that I know diddly about rowing, mind you. 20d caused unnecessary difficulty because I overlooked the hyphenation. Those of us who read Shakespeare at the u would be all too familiar with the Variorum Shakespeare, where 3 or four lines of speech squeeze on to a page otherwise filled with commentary and proposed revisions from editors over the centuries. I’ve marked ‘COD’ in the margins at several places: 16ac, 34ac, 44ac, 51d. I think I’d go with 34ac.
    1. I studied the bard a lot at university and I never came across this word. I know what you meant though: my Arden edition of Hamlet has 574 pages. The play starts on p.165 and there is a section at the end called ‘longer notes’. P.52 of Richard II contains

      This precious stone set in the silver sea,
      Which serves it in the office of a wall

      and then lots of notes.

      Happy days!

      Edited at 2015-06-14 11:38 am (UTC)

      1. Robert Benchley has a nice parody of a Variorum reading in, I think, “The Benchley Roundup”.
        1. Thanks, I found it. Very nice, although actually quite hard to distinguish from the real thing.
  2. This took me just over an hour and crikey it was hard. I didn’t spot the absence of an E but I guess it explains the preponderance of obscurities. All fairly clued though, even if 5dn is extremely hard and took me a lot of time on its own.
  3. Abdabs unknown to us non-Brits,but wordplay obvious.What word does UPLAND define?(ONG’ARA,KENYA)
    1. Just the “down”, as per OED…

      (usually downs) A gently rolling hill

      Sorry, should have realised this might not be obvious to people who are outside the UK: the Sussex Downs, for instance, are what passes for “uplands” in a country whose mountains aren’t as impressive as, say Kenya!

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