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Toughie 416

Toughie No 416 by Firefly

Just a Thong at Twilight

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment ****

There’s a theme to today’s puzzle by Firefly and the sooner you get 10a the sooner it becomes apparent. All, except one, references to 10 in the other clues are to variations on the meaning of 10a. I really enjoyed solving it, and even if I hadn’t enjoyed it quite so much, I’d still have given it 4* for entertainment just for the joy of 1a. In terms of difficulty I don’t think that it’s quite as hard as yesterday’s, but I still found it a tough challenge and at one stage I had three-quarters of the grid filled in with the bottom right-hand quadrant still totally blank.
Let us know how you found it in a comment, and please remember to click on one of the stars below to show how much you enjoyed it.

Across Clues

1a  Fondle a thicker thong? (5)
{GROPE} – hilarious! – if your g-string (thong)  is a bit too narrow and you want something a bit more substantial, what do you end up with? It’s also a verb meaning to fondle (sometimes in an inappropriate way). However boring it may be, it seems as though I’ll have to spend time searching for an illustrative picture…

4a  Sentimental bit of guff inserted in curtailed codicil at son’s homecoming (9)
{NOSTALGIC} – the order in which you carry out the manipulations here is significant. Take the outer letters (curtailed) of C(odici)L and add AT and SON. Now reverse (homecoming) what you’ve got so far. Finally insert the initial letters (bit) of G(uff) and I(nserted). [Thanks to crypticsue for providing the correct wordplay] Hidden (curtailed) in the clue and reversed (homecoming) is most of an adjective meaning sentimental. To complete it you have to insert the first letter (bit) of G(uff). What do you think of homecoming as a reversal indicator?

9a/10a Journalist Vine’s unsettled: ‘I may move in several directions’ (9,5)
{UNIVERSAL JOINT} – this is the key to the theme. My initial thought was that Jeremy would be required but it turns out to be a straight anagram (unsettled) of JOURNALIST VINE to make something capable of turning in various directions.

10a  See 9a

11a  Knight’s move for Latino failing at 10 (7)
{SIRLOIN} – an example of 10a – something to tuck into is the title given to a knight followed by an anagram (move) of L(at)INO from which “at” is missing (failing).

12a  Tweaks on the fiddle? (5,2)
{TUNES UP} – cryptic definition of how a musician adjusts an instrument to the correct pitch.

13a  10 to pass back and forth across Spain (6)
{REEFER} – this is another, slang, meaning of 10a. We want a verb meaning to pass something to a higher body for a decision, and it’s a palindrome (back and forth). Put the IVR code for Spain inside it.

15a  See 19d

18a  Most theatrical time’s wasted after opening in wretched shockers (8)
{WHAMMIES} – start with a word meaning excessively theatrical, then make the superlative of it. Now drop the final T (time’s wasted) and precede what’s left with the opening letter of W(retched) to make an informal (mainly American) word for stunning blows (shockers).

20a  Skirt with shirt for advanced rank (6)
{STRONG} – start with a skirt-like garment worn in S-E Asia and replace the A(dvanced) with T(-shirt) to form an adjective meaning out-and-out or intense (rank). Now, just so that I won’t be accused of being sexist…

23a  Decapitated sewer rat decomposing in vessel (7)
{WATERER} – an anagram (decomposing) of (s)EWER RAT produces a vessel.

24a  Shed medium bit of ‘corporation’ getting in trim (7)
{HAIRCUT} – the definition is trim. Put a synonym for shed around the medium through which sound waves travel and the first letter (bit) of C(orporation).

26a  Celts are among prehistoric enigmas (5)
{ICENI} – hidden (among) in the clue is a tribe of British Celts living in East Anglia who were led by Queen Boudica in an unsuccessful revolt against the occupying Romans.

27a  Revelations held back by Albert when editing this column (9)
{VERTEBRAL} – reverse the abbreviation for the Book of Revelations and add an anagram (editing) of ALBERT to make a column in the human body.

28a  Thanks to second push, Edward’s decorated (9)
{TASSELLED} – an adjective meaning decorated with tufts of loosely hanging threads is a charade of an informal word for thanks, S(econd), a verb meaning to offer for money (push) and an abbreviated form of Edward. I had several candidates for pictures of these decorations being twirled, but chickened out in the end.

29a  Wally and his cap found in river by bishop (5)
{DWEEB} – a mainly North American, informal term for a socially inept person (wally) is formed by putting Wally’s first (cap, i.e. capital) letter inside the name of a North Wales river and adding (by) B(ishop).

Down Clues

1d  Diminutive fixer employing son in catering team? (4,5)
{GRUB SCREW} – cryptic definition of a small, headless fastener. Put (employing) S(on) inside what a catering team might be called informally.

2d  Odd bits lopped from bonsai pear tree (5)
{OSIER} – if you remove the odd bits then what’ s left are the even letters of bonsai pear to make a small willow tree.

3d  Monstrosity setter picked out in speech (7)
{EYESORE} – this monstrosity is a sound-alike (well, just about) of I (the setter) and saw (picked out).

4d  Found on the stairs prying? (6)
{NOSING} – a synonym for prying also means (thanks Chambers) the projecting rounded edge of the step of a stair.

5d  Problem with hair being entangled – see what tangle can do! (5,3)
{SPLIT END} – this is what “tangle” does in the word entangled.

6d  10 has a record-player: posh, new and about time (7)
{ADJUNCT} – another variation on 10a, this time meaning something that is associated. It’s a long charade of A, someone who plays records professionally, the letter standing for posh, N(ew), C(irca) and T(ime).

7d  Sliding about so erratically, one’s fallen (9)
{GLISSANDO} – this is an anagram (erratically) of SL(i)DING A(bout) SO with the I (one) falling out.

8d  Unhappy with pins? (3,2)
{CUT UP} – a phrase meaning deeply distressed or unhappy. You can also make pins into a synonym of the first word of the answer if you apply the second word to it (bearing in mind that this is a down clue).

14d  Rigour from former thespian with name for resistance (9)
{EXACTNESS} – start with a term meaning a former female thespian and replace the R(esistance) with N(ame) to get a synonym for rigour.

16d  10’s unfortunate glitch in centre (9)
{NIGHTCLUB} – and we have yet another meaning of 10a. Put an anagram (unfortunate) of GLITCH inside a synonym of centre.

17d  Unreliable lover (Paris) is escaping censure (8)
{REPROVAL} – another anagram, this time (unreliable) of LOVER PAR(is) with the “is” escaping produces a word meaning censure. The Paris here could be a classical allusion or it could be the setter having a dig at Ms. Hilton.

19d/15a   10 is in Death In Venice and 10 (now showing) (7,3,5)
{MORTISE AND TENON} – a variation on 10a takes us into the world of carpentry. Put IS inside the Italian word for death, then add AND, TEN (10) and ON (now showing). This is a very cleverly constructed clue with two film titles beautifully incorporated, and a nice misdirection with the second 10.

21d  Story recounted to completion in Charlie’s place? (4,3)
{TAIL END} – we want a homophone (recounted) of a synonym of story followed by another word for completion. When followed by Charlie I’d always understood this to mean the rear gunner in a bomber aircraft, but apparently it can also mean the last aircraft in a formation, and, by derivation, any person coming last.

22d  10’s article appearing in 8 (6)
{SHARED} – another meaning of 10a (an adjective this time). Put the indefinite article inside a synonym of 8d as a verb.

23d  10 having periodic worries on Tuesday first thing (5)
{WRIST} – an example of 10a in the human body is formed from the odd letters (periodic) of worries followed by the first letter (first thing) of Tuesday. This was the first answer that I wrote in and what led me to the theme.

25d  Be wary about perhaps reading what one does to 10 (5)
{CARVE} – a latin exclamation meaning watch out or be wary goes around (about) one of the three Rs (reading, perhaps) to get what you might do to one of the manifestations of 10a (at Sunday lunchtime, perhaps).

The clues which I enjoyed included 18a, 29a, 5d, 14d and 19d, but my clue of the day, of course, is 1a

15 comments on “Toughie 416

  1. We never said you were sexist – just that your pics are a bit one track!! Brilliant puzzle today. Great theme. 1a is a wonderful clue, even if you can’t solve it, you can laugh at the clue, and then the solution!! Agree with your stars and favourite clues. Thanks to Firefly for all the entertainment and Gazza for the equally entertaining explanations.

  2. Excellent puzzle today. Defeated by a couple of clues. I never thought that 4d was anything to do with a staircase, so I did not bother to check! Amongst others I liked 1a, 13a, and 5d.
    Thanks to Firefly, and to gazza for the de-brief, and of course the picture to 1a!

  3. Very entertaining today. Although 1a was the funniest, I also enjoyed the wordplay in 5d and 8d, though these took longer to work out.

    In 4a, I took curtailed codiCIL to mean remove the first 4 letters, so no need to use the i from inserted

    • I think its a hidden word with a slight aberration. I saw this as reversing the letters starting with the n from son, then putting the g after the l at the end of codicil and adding the (reversed) ic, and losing the codi. (not sure my sentence makes sense, but I know what I mean)

      • So that’s three explanations we’ve got, but I think that crypticsue’s got the right one, because I don’t like curtailed meaning either a) take the outside letters (my explanation) or b) just take the last three letters (Roger’s), whereas it makes more sense as a hidden indicator. So thanks to you both, but I think that crypticsue gets the prize. I’ll update the blog.

        • In everyone else’s defence, I got the word from the checking letters and “sentimental”, and then searched the clue to see why. Particularly difficult for us ‘paper’ solvers as ‘codicil at’ is on one line and ‘son’s’ on the next.

          • Sue, Agree with your solution, as that’s exactly how I worked it out too!
            My oh my, what a beefy but amusing puzzle, from which 1a and 19/15 did it for me.

  4. Thoroughly entertaining crossword from Firefly, terrific review from Gazza. Favourite was 1a obviously but also enjoyed 5d and 8d. I preferred the picture for 1a to that of 20a but then I am sexist and do love the Ladies.

  5. Thank you for your sterling efforts to find photos for 1a and 20a. Helped enormously ;-)
    Would not immediately have picked up on homecoming = reversal without your assistance.
    I have to say I had avoided the Toughie until recently – lack of time and a hatred of giving up on anything BUT I’m really enjoying my attempts now simply because of the entertainment offered here with the extra clues!! Thank you!

  6. This was a hoot, not just for 1a, but the variations on the theme and the remaining superb clues. Thank you to Firefly for the entertainment and to Gazza for the review.

  7. Loved 1a – got the word from the checking letters, but took a while to work out why it was the answer!

    Incidentally, if you want another take on 28a, I can point you at 1m25s into this video:

    (which I’m doing this week at Windsor and next week in Yeovil if anyone’s bored!) :)


  8. This was magnificent and hugely entertaining, especially completing it with a friend over the course of a relaxing but mentally demanding hour or so. We were in stitches at 1a, which I’d considered briefly (pun not intended) without getting why, before realising why once we had the checking letters.

    Having realised that 10a was key, our first connection to 10a was 11a, which my friend got, from which I unravelled 9a&10a’s anagram – a superb surface reading too. Then thought the word had so many meanings it could be entertainingly varied, and I was hooked and wasn’t disappointed. 13a’s meaning hadn’t even sprung to mind until I solved it half way through.

    Thank you so much Firefly for your masterly display and great entertainment, and also to Gazza and fellow commenters who clarified some of the wordplay I’d missed. It completed a lovely morning’s solving which started with Monay’s gentle but brilliant Rufus from the Guardian and actually we saved today’s DT ’til tomorrow.

  9. A lovely puzzle that unfortunately I could not complete due to work commitments. I checked the blog for the last four but managed all but one thematic answer.
    1a shone as did 4a.
    Many thanks to Gazza for the review and Firefly fir an entertaining puzzle.

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