Toughie 369

Toughie No 369 by MynoT

It’s in the air

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Let me first apologise to Big Dave for going away last week and leaving him with an Excalibur puzzle to blog, I did look at it on my return and I doubt that I would have been much more complimentary than he was.  But to be honest I would quite cheerfully have taken last week’s Excalibur puzzle in exchange for this week’s MynoT puzzle.

I filled in all the squares reasonably quickly and then had to resort to the dictionary to check several answers and to work out some wordplay that I hadn’t fully understood. I think I now understand it all but I’m sure someone will tell me of any subtleties I may have missed. Once again MynoT includes three signs of the zodiac as answers.


1a     Scornful response from soldier returning holding broken blade? On the contrary (3,4)
{BIG DEAL} “On the contrary” tells you to treat the clue as “Scornful response from broken blade holding soldier returning”. Reverse the abbreviation for a US soldier and put it inside an anagram (broken) of BLADE to get a scornful response

5a    Covers minced prawn in a couple of quesidillas (7)
{ENWRAPS} An anagram of PRAWN is put inside two consecutive letters of QUESIDILLAS to give a word meaning “covers”

9a    Space at the opera house for tourist in Cornwall (5)
{EMMET} A unit of measurement used in spacing type in printing precedes the abbreviated form of a New York opera house to give a word used for tourists in Cornwall. It also means an ant

10a    Conductor’s weapons? (5,4)
{BATON GUNS} One I didn’t know. Think of something a musical conductor uses. This will lead you to weapons used to fire plastic bullets in riot control.

11a    Fanfares at function with Fern at Finisterre, for example (10)
{TANTARARAS} A word for blasts on a trumpet is made up of a trigonometrical function (sin/cos) + a variety of bracken found in NZ and Tasmania + a fairly obscure word for a headland (or cape)

12a    No season for monthly-paid workers to produce song (4)
{ARIA} The season is SALT. Remove this from a term for the salary-earning class to get an operatic song.

14a    Sun, perhaps, has hot air here (6,6)
{GOSSIP COLUMN} A cryptic definition. The Sun is a newspaper and the answer is a feature of a newspaper where hot air (empty talk) is featured

18a    One to succeed in declaring the invisible visible (4,8)
{HEIR APPARENT} The answer is someone who succeeds (inherits). The first word sounds like something invisible that is all around us.

21a    Distinctive character of volcanic rock covering ancient city (4)
{AURA} This volcanic rock is known by many because it appears first in an alphabetical list of 2-letter words. Put an ancient city (the usual one) inside it to get a distinctive character.

22a    They support diaphragms in healthy chests (10)
{SOUND BOXES} According to Chambers these are parts of a gramophone that support the diaphragm. The answer is made up of “healthy” + “chests”

25a    Faulty drive produced this 16 piece with more than one 12 (9)
{RIGOLETTO} You need the answers to 16 down and 12 across to complete this clue. The answer is a work of somebody whose name is an anagram (faulty) of DRIVE

26a    Old Spanish kingdom without active element (5)
{ARGON} Take an old Spanish kingdom and remove an A (active) to give a chemical element (an inert gas)

27a    Objective after continued struggle (7)
{CONTEND} An abbreviation for “continued” is followed by a word meaning “objective” to give a word meaning “struggle”

28a    Extract gas for American in France (7)
{ESSENCE} We call it petrol, the Americans call it gas(oline), the French call it *******. It also means “extract” as a noun


1d    Slight suspicion of engineers in spa town (6)
{BREATH} As usual the engineers are the Royal Engineers. Put the abbreviation inside a well-known spa town

2d    Identical siblings are small on Earth (6)
{GEMINI} The first of the thematic answers. A two-letter for of Gaea or Gaia (the personification of Earth) is followed by an informal word for small.

3d    Actor has solution: one right out of this world (5-5)
{EXTRA-SOLAR} I struggled with this one. The actor is one temporarily engaged for a minor part. This is followed by an abbreviation for solution + A (one) + R (right)

4d    Pound’s collection of books a couple short (5)
{LIBRA} The second thematic answer. Remove the last two letters from somewhere books are found.

5d    Sting’s creator is department singer (9)
{ENTRAPPER} Our old favourite hospital department (3-letter abbreviation) is followed by a type of singer (e.g. Snoop Dogg, Eminem; but is it really singing?). The answer is someone who stings (catches out)

6d    Turn to gain a bit of dough (4)
{WIND} A word meaning “gain” is followed by the first letter of dough

7d    Sign of holder of water storage tanks losing money (8)
{AQUARIUS} The third thematic answer. Remove M (money) from tanks where fish are kept to give the sign

8d    Provides for American returning with marks (8)
{SUSTAINS} Reverse US (American) and add a word meaning “marks”

13d    Bone and mangos cultivated as source of forage (5,5)
{MOONG BEANS} An anagram (cultivated) of BONE MANGOS gives some leguminous Asian plants used as forage. I was not aware of this spelling.

15d    ‘Drink fortified wine,’ journalist maintained (9)
{SUPPORTED} Drink (verb) + fortified wine + journalist (the chief one) give a word meaning “maintained”

16d    Struggling architect having left one college behind exaggerated (8)
{THEATRIC} An anagram (struggling) of ARCHITECT without one of the C’s (having left one college behind) gives a rare form of word for exaggerated (or stagy)

17d    Turning back negotiable gold to money could be quite a bit of inspiration (8)
{NITROGEN} Reverse an abbreviation of negotiable + a word for gold (the colour) + a word for money to get a constituent of the air that you breathe in (inspire)

19d    Gas of old soldier about unknown unknown (6)
{OXYGEN} Another constituent of the air is made up of O (old) GEN (General = soldier) around 2 letters that denote unknown quantities

20d    Old interest in cooking new sauce (6)
{USANCE} An anagram (cooking) of N (new) SAUCE gives an obsolete term for interest (in a financial sense)

23d    Nobody in Orient is seen after midday (2,3)
{NO ONE} E (East = Orient) is put after another word for midday

24d    Joy’s finally going to shelter (4)
{GLEE} The last letter of going is followed by a word meaning “shelter”

Once again a MynoT puzzle that contains too many obscurities for my liking.

[My apologies for the late posting.  On top of all the CluedUp problems, I took advantage of a lift to Birmingham to restock my spice cupboard and got back rather later than I had intended.  Bufo had emailed this to me over 3 hours earlier!]


  1. Posted June 10, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    While shopping for spices in Birmingham today, I noticed the Moong Beans on the shelf – like Bufo I had never seen this spelling before.

  2. gazza
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I presume (you can never quite tell with MynoT) that the presence in the answers of the three most common gases in air is being hinted at by 18a.

  3. Posted June 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Well for once I finished a Mynot!. Ditto the bean problem – I had Mongo Beans for a while (Which beats my ‘dunbar’ in the Times today! !. I found this much more enjoyable than my previous failures – I don’t mind some obscure terms provided they are clearly clued. I struggled to start and had Alliterate in for 11a (I still don’t get the wordplay!..
    Favourites were 25a, 28a and 18a.
    Thanks Bufo for the review and thanks to Mynot for a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle.

    • gazza
      Posted June 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      11a is just a charade of tan (function), tara (fern) and ras (Arabic word for headland or cape, clued by the example of Cape Finisterre)

  4. Gilbert
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    1d, 6d, 24d and 12a can also be associated with air.

    • gazza
      Posted June 10, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      .. and there’s hot air in 14a.

  5. Posted June 10, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    And the Zodiac signs are all air signs. I think we have cracked the theme!

  6. Posted June 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Looking back at T 357 – there was an earth theme there and we all missed it.

    • gazza
      Posted June 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      So look out for fire or water next time!

      • Posted June 10, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        Logically it will be water – we will have to wait and see!

  7. Posted June 10, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Defeated by 11a, so did a quickk Google of the word:

    Definition of tantararas Definition of tantararas. … Definition of tantararas. Word doesn’t exisit. Help | Contact | Browse dictionary. ©2010 Crossword Puzzle Help | Site by …

    Only got 2d and 17 by spotting the air theme, not from the clues

    Definitely the toughest Toughie for several weeks

    • Posted June 10, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      From Chambers 11th edition:

      A blast on the trumpet or horn (also tantarara)

  8. Posted June 10, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Good Sleuthing everyone!

    • Posted June 10, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      I can’t think how we missed it last time!

    • Posted June 10, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Also a bizarre spelling in Cacao Bean!

  9. Gill
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Not happy with 11a. Got it by default as it was the only thing that fitted. I reckon Gazza is the only one who sorted it.

    • Posted June 10, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Bufo could not have written the hint that he did if he hadn’t sorted it! All of the words are in Chambers.

  10. BigBoab
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    As usual I was totally defeated by MynoT,11a,5d and 13d defeated me even with Gnomethangs hint, I will keep trying. Thanks Bufo for the review.

  11. Prolixic
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    After the previous MynoT, this was a pleasant crossword – I think Bufo is being a little harsh in his assessment! I had spotted the three gasses but had not linked the signs of the zodiac to the three air signs. Many thanks to MynoT and to Bufo for the notes.

  12. Libellule
    Posted June 11, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Bit late to comment on this one, due to a power cut. Certainly one of the harder crosswords that we have had for a while, but it kept me out of trouble for a while. BTW 26a isn’t the answer ARGON?

  13. BillyBusker
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I know it’s a bit late for this, but I’m totally baffled by Bufo’s explanation of 2dn. You say that GE is ”a two-letter for of Gaea or Gaia”, which doesn’t make any sense to this blockhead. Can you or maybe MynoT possibly elucidate? Thanks for otherwise great crossword and blog.

    • Posted June 15, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      BillyB – Ge is another word for Gaea or Gaia according to Chambers so it is just another synonym (ableit rare) for Earth

      • BillyBusker
        Posted June 15, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

        You again, Gnomey! Thanks for that. Don’t know why I didn’t think to check in my Chambers!!

  14. Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Another late comment: found this very hard, especially the NW corner. 11A seemed to go a bit overboard on obscurities – the answer and the fern must count, and ras=headland is pretty hard too. Thought the def at 3 was a bit poor – the answer means outside the solar system, which is rather more out than “out of this world”. Also not keen on ‘any two adjacent letters from quesadillas’ (5A), subtracting salt in two parts (12A), or the rather vague ‘department = ENT’ (5). Stumped by the wordplay of 25 until after solving, confirming it simply from being one of those words that setters like (R?G?L?T?O has no other options, I suspect). On the positive side, “unknown unknown” in 19D was very good. Confirmed 20D by thinking that usury probably had the same word origins.