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Toughie 808

Toughie No 808 by Firefly

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

On first read-through I thought that this was going to be a stinker but I actually got through it in average time for a Wednesday. There are two themes based on two distinct meanings of 1a – it wasn’t until I came to write the blog that I realised that the setter had helpfully differentiated between the two by putting one set of references in quotes (i.e. ‘1ac’) and the other without quotes. Thanks to Firefly for the entertainment.
Please let us know, via a comment, how you got on and take the time to record your assessment of the puzzle by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Thicken soup in this? (7)
{KITCHEN} – an anagram (soup) of THICKEN gives a) where you might thicken soup and b) an informal term for the percussion section of an orchestra.

5a  Rookie’s in charge of the French cell (7)
{CUBICLE} – string together another word for a rookie, the abbreviation for in charge of and a French definite article to make a small room (cell).

9a  Crack workers donning alien gear (9)
{EQUIPMENT} – a witty remark (crack) and another word for workers go inside (donning) Spielberg’s alien.

10a  Writer takes aversion, oddly, to political leader (5)
{AESOP} – the name of a fabled writer comes from the odd letters of aversion followed by the leading letter of P(olitical).

11a  There’s ‘Lark In The Clear Air’ (5)
{ETHER} – a literary term for clear air, especially the upper regions beyond the clouds, comes from an anagram (lark) of THERE.

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12a  Record a payment Earl’s returned for tacky stuff (9)
{SELLOTAPE} – the trademarked name for some tacky stuff requires us to stick together a) an old format for music records, b) A, c) a payment (for crossing a bridge, for example), d) E(arl) and e) the ‘S from the clue. Then reverse (returned) the lot.

13a  Dreams run free for one in ‘1ac’ (5,4)
{SNARE DRUM} – an anagram (free) of DREAMS RUN produces something from the percussion section.

16a  Hunts such as rabbit and hare, we’re told (5)
{MEETS} – gatherings of the unspeakable prior to a hunt sound like (we’re told) what rabbit and hare are examples of.

17a  Sink punt with the setter and daughter aboard (5)
{BIDET} – this is a sink which has a specific purpose (not in the 1a). A punt or wager has the subjective way the setter may refer to himself and D(aughter) inserted (aboard).

18a  New Orleans sleuth’s investigations caught out ‘Moneybags’ (9)
{NOTECASES} –  we don’t want the usual meaning of moneybags here but the cryptic meaning, i.e. something used to carry money. Start with the abbreviation for New Orleans, then add an abbreviated informal term for a sleuth and criminal or medical investigations from which the leading C has been dropped (caught out).

20a  A pair of unknowns cut and sharpen piece of ‘1ac’ 9 (9)
{XYLOPHONE} – another piece of the percussion section is built from two algebraic unknowns followed by verbs meaning a) to cut and b) to sharpen.

23a  Herb’s limited English useless for publication (5)
{ORGAN} – a culinary herb loses its final O (limited) and has its E(nglish) not used (use-less) to leave a publication, especially one promoting the views of a political party or movement.

25a  Frame contract start to finish (5)
{EASEL} – start with a contract whereby one party has use of another’s property for a specified time, then move the first letter to the end (start to finish).

26a  Communicate in sound? (4,1,4)
{DROP A LINE} – double definition. Sound, as a verb, means to measure the depth of some water.

27a  Trim manifesto, a sterile article of 1ac 9 (7)
{TOASTER} – if you cut away (trim) the outer bits of three words in the clue you end up with an article used in 1a.

28a  Tenor wears bowler to render item of 1ac 9 (7)
{STEAMER} – T(enor) is inserted in a pace bowler to make another item used in 1a.

Down Clues

1d  ‘Tower’ beers happen to lack stoppers (7)
{KEEPERS} – the central tower of a castle is followed by beers without (to lack) a verb meaning to take place or happen. The result is players whose aim is to stop the opposition scoring.

2d  Chewy, even if less hard (5)
{TOUGH} – start with a conjunction meaning ‘even if’ and take out the H(ard).

3d  Web system expert they mysteriously deported East (9)
{HYPERTEXT} – this is a mechanism allowing web users to get easy access to linked items (by clicking here, as an example). It’s an anagram (mysteriously) of EXPERT TH(e)Y after one E(ast) has been deported.

4d  ‘Roots’: Wesker’s third after final showings of ‘Chicken Soup’ — East twice featured therein (5)
{NEEPS} – these are root vegetables in Scotland. We want the third letter of WeSker after the final letters of ChickeN and SouP with E(ast) appearing twice inside. I don’t think the literary surface quite works because ‘Roots’ was Wesker’s second play in his trilogy after the first ‘Chicken Soup with Barley’, but since Wesker is best known for his kitchen sink dramas it does fit the theme very well.

5d  End of Canterbury? It’s a ‘y’ (4,5)
{CITY LIMIT} – this is the farthest extent of what Canterbury is an example of. Cryptically it would be the letter ‘y’. Not a great clue.

6d  Do drop article into Froebel centre on rising (5)
{BEANO} – the cleverly concealed definition here is do (a party). Insert (drop) an indefinite article into the central three letters of FrOEBel reversed (rising, in a down clue). Fröbel was a German who developed the concept of the kindergarten (if his name had been written correctly, with an umlaut, in the clue, the wordplay would not have worked).

7d  Fish from trawler with special item of ‘1ac’ 9 (9)
{CASTANETS} – a phrase (4,1,3) meaning to fish from a trawler is followed by S(pecial) to make a themed item.

8d  Train journalists to follow example (7)
{EXPRESS} – a type of train is formed from a collective word for journalists following the abbreviation of example.

14d  Where in Spain sundial’s built into rock (9)
{ANDALUSIA} – an anagram (built) of SUNDIAL goes into a type of volcanic rock to make the southernmost region of Spain, once under Moorish rule.

15d  Listing by degrees, Noah’s first on board stricken ark to take command (4,5)
{RANK ORDER} – this phrase means the arrangement of things or people sequentially (normally, in the case of people, with the most senior first and the most junior last). Insert Noah’s first letter inside an anagram (stricken) of ARK then add a synonym of command.

16d  Setter’s bird reportedly given Roller — that’s a bit of 1ac 9! (9)
{MICROWAVE} – start with homophones (reportedly) of setter’s (put into the first person) and a black bird, then add what a roller is to a surfer.

17d  Battle with constituency for ideal position (3,4)
{BOX SEAT} – a straightforward charade of to battle (in the ring) and a synonym for constituency gives an ideal position. The term derives, not from the theatre, but from the lofty perch of the driver of a carriage, allowing good sight of what was ahead.

19d  ‘Ursa’, a Rubens composition? (3,4)
{SUN BEAR} – an anagram (composition) of A RUBENS gives us a wild, nocturnal, animal from the forests of S-E Asia, of a type identified by the latin word ursa.

21d  Bristol I persuade slightly into the air? (5)
{PILOT} – initially I thought that I would have to find a picture of a push-up bra for this clue, but, sadly, Bristol here is a type of plane. The answer is hidden (slightly) and reversed (into the air, i.e. going up) and is defined by the whole clue.

22d  Looks at books to replace inferior ‘English Isles’ (5)
{EYOTS} – these are small islands in a river (I remember the term cropping up every year in the Boat Race commentary on radio, for one at Chiswick). Start with a verb meaning looks at closely and replace the second (inferior, i.e. lower in a down clue) E(nglish) with the abbreviation for religious books.

24d  Brother-in-lore? (5)
{GRIMM} – cryptic definition of one of the German brothers who compiled an anthology of fairy tales, many of them quite dark in nature.

My favourites today were 26a and 16d – how about you?

13 comments on “Toughie 808

  1. Very enjoyable – I hadn’t noticed the non 1a items being in quotes which might have helped some of the cymbals clash earlier Thanks to Firefly for a nice Toughie and to gazza for the illustrated explanations. My top favourite was 16d too.

  2. I enjoyed this one very much, favourite clue was the haggis accompaniment at 4d. Many thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the review.

  3. Good all round entertainment on offer today, favourites for me were 6d 9a 18a and 26a. Thanks to Firefly and to Gazza for the comprehensive review.

  4. Sorry to be thick but what’s the significance of the 9 after 1ac in 27a, 28a and 16d?

    1. Welcome to the blog MrMash

      It represents the answer to clue 9 across. The convention is that a number on its own can represent a clue which is either across or down but not both, and ac or dn are added if the number is ambiguous.

  5. Raining again so I had a go. I got 1a so, since lots of the other clues seemed to take me back there, I thought I had a chance – wrong! I did a few more then had a look at gazza’s introduction – I hadn’t even thought of a second meaning of kitchen (and didn’t know it anyway). After that I carried on and eventually finished apart from about five, all in the top half. I really enjoyed the challenge – if there’s one good thing about this lousy “summer” it’s having more time for crosswords!
    I liked 20 and 26a and 16 and 19d.
    With thanks to Firefly and gazza.

    1. 13A reminded me of the second definition to 1a when I saw the differences in the indicator to 1ac 9. Had to resort to google to get the two letter bit of 14a, which I thought was spelled with a C, not knowing the alternative. Great fun today, thanks Firefly and Gazza

  6. MIssed a couple but had a busy day so retreated to the ‘blog (Thanks BD).
    Quite enjoyed this but agree with the 5d. 4d was my favourite, however.
    Thanks to Firefly and to BD for the review.

      1. oops! It IS wednesday after all!. Sorry all and thanks gazza!.

        Did I say that it has been a long day?!!

  7. Brilliant! Finished with the help of Gazza so thanks to he & to Firefly for the entertainment. 17a was solved at 3:30am while laid in bed listening to a car alarm going off!

  8. I loved this one. Last one in 1d, and I had never heard of the volcanic rock in 14d.
    Thanks to Firefly for a most enjoyable puzzle, and to Gazza for the notes.

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