Rookie Corner – 087 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 087

A Puzzle by JollySwagman

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +


The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

JollySwagman presents another delightfully themed puzzle – it doesn’t take rocket science to work out the subject, but can you solve all the clues?  As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.

Prolixic has updated his document entitled “A brief guide to the construction of cryptic crossword clues” which can be downloaded, in pdf format, from the Rookie Corner index page or by clicking below.

Download asa Word file

A review of this puzzle by Prolific follows.

A themed crossword from Jollyswagman.  Perhaps some of the solutions relied on too much general knowledge but most of the answer were readily gettable from the wordplay.  Four hidden answers was a little too many for a crossword.  One or two is the usual limit.  There was some inventive and enjoyable cluing.  The two triple inches  would not usually be welcomed in national papers and, with the bottom one, where the answer is a complex anagram, it would make like hard for the solver.  Fortunately, the initial misplaced title meant that it was a write in!

Across

1 Famous actor who only got one Oscar for The King and I. It’s really heartless what those vultures do (7,4)
GREGORY PECK – The two letter abbreviation for King George followed by the Latin for I, the outer letters (heartless) of really and what vultures may do at their carrion.  This crossword contains long clues.  Each setter has their own style and the longer extended definitions add to the surface readings here.  The usual structure of a clue is, however, wordplay for definition but it is reversed here to give definition for wordplay but as one of the definitions of for is “by reason of”, it works.

6/28 Former Alabama governor makes short biographical films (OMG!) about judge (3,3,6)
BIG JIM FOLSOM – An anagram (makes) of BIO (short biographical) FILMS OMG around the abbreviation for judge.  One of my least favourite setting techniques is taking an obscure word or, here, obscure piece of general knowledge, and cluing it as an anagram as until you have sufficient checkers you cannot really make any progress and, even with the checkers in place, you frequently have to then check on line or in a dictionary that you have the right answer.  Depending on how grammatical you want the cryptic instructions to be, makes as an anagram indicator may jar.

8 See14

10 It’s strange to be in Rome taking part in comic opera with Iris and Diana? (9)
GODDESSES – Another word for strange and the Latin (in Rome) for to be go inside the initials of Gilbert & Sullivan (comic opera).

11 It takes pluck for a cockney girl like Gypsy Rose to become a writer (6,3)
HARPER LEE – An instrument that can be plucked when played followed by a pronoun for a girl with the H dropped (Cockney) and the surname of a person called Gypsy Rose.

13 The Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s training room (5)
SCOPE – The abbreviation for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra followed by the abbreviation for physical exercise or training.  I cannot see the abbreviation for the orchestra in Chambers or in Collins but it may be in other dictionaries.

14/8 1a’s role in 21a, 33a. An “island community” reflects on race and honour. It’s set in America – the end is censored (7,5)
ATTICUS FINCH – An A (from the an) followed by the abbreviations for island and community after (on) the abbreviation for Time Trials (race) followed by the abbreviation for Companion of Honour inside which you add (it has set in) the abbreviations for America and a word meaning the end with the final IS removed (censored).  C on its own for community is not given as an abbreviation in Chambers or Collins.  Although it appears in compound abbreviations such as European Community, the convention is that you do not usually split out component parts of compound abbreviations to clue individual letters that do not bear the abbreviation in their own right.

16 Hush! Oedipus is hiding in Oxford? (4)
SHOE – The answer is hidden in HUSH OEDIPUS.

19 Early incarnation of ancient empire (4)
INCA – The initial four letters (early) of INCARNATION.  Some editors may not accept early as an indicator for an unknown number of letters.  Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition.

21/33 Film that makes Baldrick’s timing look amazing (2,4,1,11)
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – An anagram (amazing) of BALDRICK TIMING LOOK.  The apostrophe s here translates to give A has BC mixed up.  The structure here of definition THAT MAKE wordplay seems to me to be the wrong way round as it is the wordplay that makes the definition.

24 Gangster’s bird almost gets him acquitted (5)
ALIBI – The name of Mr Capone (gangster) followed by the name of a bird with the final letter removed (almost).  I think that the definition is a little to fluid here.

25 Having a lot of good contacts 50% of Tories knew Ed Balls (9)
NETWORKED – An anagram (balls) of TOR (50% of Tories) KNEW ED.

28 See6

29 Cold climate house has one good little room (5)
IGLOO – The abbreviations for one and good and another word for a toilet (little room).

32 James is inconsiderate (3)
SID – The name of the comic actor is hidden in CONSIDERATE.  The clue requires you to mentally split the in/considerate to get the wordplay.  As a definition by example, you might expect as a solver for some reference to this to be included.

33 See21

Down

1 File‘s bent – no time to fix it (3)
GIF – Another word for a bent or talent has the T removed (not time).  The file is a picture file format.

2 Even poets say this (3)
EEN – How a poet may express the word even.

3 Nicola Sturgeon expresses surprise about colour (5)
OCHRE – How a Scottish person (Nicola Sturgeon) may express surprise followed by the Latin abbreviation for about.

4 Continual needless energy- sapping meddling (7)
ENDLESS – An anagram (meddling) of NEEDLESS after removing one of the Es (energy sapping).

5 Hold shares in Tower? (4,5)
KEEP STOCK –  A double definition.

6 Give gold ring to wife (6)
BESTOW – Another word meaning gold, top or first followed by the letter that looks like a ring and the abbreviation for wife.

7 Get maybe Mark or John to work over short break … (6)
GOSPEL – A two letter word meaning to work followed by a word for a break with the final letter removed (short).

9 … as I’m going with secretary for a beer (3)
IPA – The I from the clue followed by an abbreviation for a secretary.  Some editors will not allow I am in this fashion as you would not allow A am going with…

10 The legal establishment’s full of wind (5)
GALES – The answer is hidden iN LEGAL ESTABLISHMENT.

11 Discover – and say that one half-agrees (4)
HEAR – Half of the two word repeated expression used to express agreement.

12 Respect for rank (4)
RATE – A double definition though the two meaning are very closely related.

15 Script in which copper (uniformed) loses case after mix-up (9)
CUNEIFORM – The chemical symbol for copper followed by an anagram (after mix up) of the inner letters NIFORME of uniformed (loses case)

17 Snow didn’t see the point of criticism (4)
FLAK – Remove the abbreviation for East (point) from another word for snow.  I am not entirely convinced that one flake means snow – the mass noun for a large number of flakes.

18 The network’s down in part of Germany (4)
LAND – The abbreviation for local area network followed by the abbreviation for down.

20 Man gets lost in London. He’s 99 – probably having a senior moment (7)
AMNESIC – An anagram (gets lost) of MAN followed by an (East) London way of says he’s (dropping the H) and the Roman numerals for 99 only ever used incorrectly in crossword land as IC.

21 Art of saying thank you to a corporation (5)
TATUM – The surname of the jazz musician Art… A way of saying thank you followed by another word for the stomach (corporation).  As the answer is a definition by example of people called Art, it would be a helpful for the solver to indicate this as Art maybe saying thank…

22 Sweetheart gets captured by outlaws. They may start duelling (6)
BANJOS – Another word for sweetheart inside a word meaning outlaws or prohibits.

23 Shot fellow (Frenchman) at sea (6)
FILMED – The abbreviation for fellow followed by the French pronoun for man and the short name of the Mediterranean Sea.

26 As opinion is divided that’s unsettled (5)
OWING – Divide the opinion into O and Pinion and provide another word for the pinion.

27 Et in Arcadia   . Say nothing … (3)
EGO – The word that completes the title of a painting Et In Arcadia … comes from the Latin abbreviation for say and the letter representing nothing.

30 … but in Lisa Minnelli’s case we ultimately think of Garland (3)
LEI – The final letter of we goes inside the outer letters (case) of L[isa Minnell]i.

31 Veteran of school desegregation (3)
OLD – The answer is hidden in (of) SCHOOL DESEGREGATION.

70 comments on “Rookie Corner – 087

  1. Terrific puzzle Mockingbird, Thank you! One of the abiding joys of Rookie Corner is that we get something different from the usual fare of the dailies, and here, along with the wonderful creativity and hard work you’ve clearly put in, we had clues where the length bordered on the epic! Although Prolixic often goes to the other extreme (this month’s prize puzzle for example) he also states quite clearly in his guide that there are no rules on clue length at all. Personally I found it refreshing and fun, and of course there were a few short clues in there as well.
    I failed to even read the title until after completing 21/33 which came very close to being my clue of the week, but for a rogue ‘s’, I still liked it though.
    Other favourites included 11a, 12a, 24a, 29a, 3d, 10d, 21d (looks familiar), 23d and 30d.
    With 4d and 15d I wondered if too much of the answers were given to us in the clue; with 6/28a I needed Mr Google’s help and I still haven’t parsed either 14/8a or 20a, so shall look forward to the review.
    But the main thing is how much creativity you’ve given us. I loved it and many thanks!

  2. Terrific stuff with some very inventive wordplay – thanks Swagman. I think that the title gives too much away. Quite a bit of 1a could be cut out to make it less verbose. There seems to be a redundant S in the anagram fodder in 21/33a. I haven’t yet managed to parse 14/8a fully. I didn’t know the Alabama governor but I worked his name out from the wordplay and checkers and Googled it and there he was.
    Top clues for me are 13a, 25a, 32a and 26d.

  3. Hi JollySwagman!

    Really ingenious clues – fabulous! My favourite is 1a (with several other strong contenders including 25a, 20d and 21d), where the wordplay took a while for me to twig! I’ve also three which I know are right but where I’ll await Prolixic’s analysis to let me know what I am missing on the wordplay. I also suspect there may be a few that are part of the theme that I’ve missed. Oh, and you are right, 21/33 is amazing!

    – ENCOTA –

  4. Like Maize I had not noticed the title at first, and like Gazza I thought it gave to much away (though BD has since explained that). Once I had the rest of the pieces, I looked in vain for the name of the theme’s narrator. 13A looked a likely place at first, but that didn’t work out. A missed opportunity, perhaps?

    I’m on the fence. I thought it was very clever to fit so many answers to the theme, but overall I thought there was way too much general knowledge involved. Even in the US, 6/28 would not be widely known outside of the Deep South . I wonder if the anagram indicator in 25A would pass muster at the DT?

    Enjoyable in general though. Thanks JS.

    • In an email from the setter “… there’s one name in there that’s probably a bit obscure but I remember finding it quite enlightening when I googled him myself as I was writing the puzzle”.

  5. Hi JS,

    Well, you did promise after your last puzzle that your next one would be easier, and I certainly found it so. Thank you! I’ve never read the book but am quite familiar with the film, and therefore none of the themed clues caused any hold-ups. Like Expat Chris, I was surprised at the omission of the story’s narrator.

    Lots to enjoy, very clever and inventive constructions, but I do think that it’s good discipline to try to cut out as much verbosity as possible, and I think that 1a and 14/8a both needed the secateurs.

    As for the grid, nobody yet has mentioned the triple unches (so I won’t either!), but I will say that I thought eight three-letter words was too many.

    My personal favourites were 25a, 17d and 30d, and my biggest relief was that George Osborne didn’t get a mention this time, yay!

    Congratulations and thanks for the entertainment, JS.

  6. My children studied the book at school and as it is still on the curriculum,I overhear bits and pieces over the years, so I just guessed 21/23, Finch and Atticus.Other guesses included 22d, 27d, 1d, 3d, and 9d, none of which I understood.
    I guess I have a great deal more to understand about solving cryptic clues.
    I am not really sure a crossword should hinge on a solvers having read that particular book and remembering it.
    Still , very clever and it must have been a lot of work.
    Thank you , JS.

  7. Many thanks JS, another tour de force with original wordplay. One or two I’m not sure I’ve parsed correctly (10a, 20d) so looking forward to the review. I read the book at school which was a long time ago, don’t think I’ve seen the movie, so Google came in handy. LOI was the alabama governor

  8. Oh dear, I really didn’t particularly enjoy this one. So many of the clues seem to fall into the ‘too clever by half’ category. For example – 14/8. The definition is given in the first sentence so what is the point of the rest of it and why would anyone bother to work it out? To my mind, the best clues demand that the solver uses the nuance of every word to arrive at an answer – I only too often didn’t find that here.
    There were certainly some goodies – 11&32a plus 3&30d deserve podium places – and the theme was potentially great but sadly under-used. As Chris said, what a golden opportunity was missed at 13a.
    Sorry, Jolly Swagman, but I do find your style difficult to get along with. Others obviously feel differently and will be more able to give you feedback that will be of use to you.

  9. Recently completed todays puzzle and have to say that I look forward to tomorrows review to untangle some of the obscure wordplay, it certainly entered toughie territory for me.
    Helped enormously when I spotted the ‘theme’ -one of my favourite films .There were many excellent clues and I could tell a great deal of effort had gone into the crossword-well done.

  10. Hi JS,

    I struggled quite a bit with this one – it’s a very long time since I read the book, and I can’t recall having seen the film (though guess I really should do!), so I suppose that wouldn’t have helped. There was lots to like though in the ones that I did understand, and I’m assuming there will be lots of ‘aha’ moments when I read Prolixic’s review tomorrow. I’ll pick 1a as my overall favourite.

    Thanks! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  11. A an aside, 11A was a “one-book wonder” by her own choice and became very reclusive. She’s now around 90 years old. The ‘doings’ behind the “discovery” and recent publication of her second book, which was written many years ago and never intended by her to go into print, are really rather murky and unsavory.

  12. I thought that was pretty tricky – certainly tricky enough for me on a Monday.
    I don’t know what the title was because by the time I printed this out it had gone so I had to wait for 21/33 to get started – was slightly thrown by the spare letter.
    I’m still missing two answers in the bottom left corner and have several more that I don’t understand.
    If I’ve interpreted 20d the right way – I could easily be wrong – I think we need to know the specific bit of London.
    Needless to say I’ve never heard of the 6/28 governor.
    I liked 10 and 29a and 9 and 20d. My favourite was 16a.
    Thanks and well done to JollySwagman and in advance to Prolixic.

    • I think the London is doing the same job as Cockney in 11? I don’t know if that means it needs to be more specific.

        • OK, Dutch, I’m going to be an absolute pain again. If I’m reading this correctly, then the last two letters of the answer are very wrong – but that would seem to be an extremely basic mistake and no-one else has mentioned it, so I guess I’m out of line, again?

          • May I answer? As I see it, the last two letters are IC, as represented by 99 in Roman Numerals. Or at least how they were taught to us in school. I think they never actually used this subtractive form, but AMNESLXXXXVIIII is harder to say.

      • Must say it was one of the points I was going to raise.
        Agree with Kath on that one.
        And speaking of ER, she sure is a Londoner but I don’t think anyone around these parts talk lithat.

  13. When it comes to posting, I have all the things I want to talk about and after reading the blog, everything has been said.
    Except that I am the only one who, after looking for Alabama Governors, decided to put Old Tom Graham.
    It worked for a short while as my main problem was to get into the SE and NW corners.
    Must admit that it was quite difficult but very enjoyable.
    The last few were bunged in unfortunately.
    I eagerly await the review and explanations from Prolixic.
    Thanks to JollySwagman for the great challenge.

  14. I also found this tricky, with many entertaining and inventive clues. I visit DIYCOW from time to time, and know from there that JS is a staunch libertarian, and we see that in many of his clues. Sometimes the clues are very good examples, as in 25a, which although it has a nounal anagram indicator is a good and entertaining clue, and it is clear what is meant. I find 11a less good though, for although it has a lovely surface, the ‘for’ and ‘like’ make the clue more difficult as they misdirect if you were trying to put the answer together piece by piece from the wordplay. Having said that, knowing the theme, it is not a difficult clue, and each of the component parts work, so having got the answer it is easy to confirm from the wordplay.
    I suspect a couple of non-Xim things (such as I’m rather than I is) may have been deliberately included to provoke debate http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

    JS is also known for extremely long clues. I think it is fine, as long as they are not unnecessarily long. I think 1a works quite well, although ‘for’ probably ought to be replaced with a colon to avoid ‘definition for wordplay’. 8/14 I don’t know about, after getting the answer I didn’t parse it, but it looks a bit too convoluted.

    24a I enjoyed, my crossword grammar isn’t up to telling if it’s legal (so I will find out soon), but it doesn’t really matter, 30d, the same (although I didn’t see the point of linking the clue with the previous one), and I also enjoyed 25a, as mentioned, 13a, and 22d.

    Many thanks JS, keep ’em coming.

  15. I like the theme so I liked the theme, if that makes sense.

    I couldn’t be bothered to parse 14/8a. I always bother to parse.

    Initially I put Scout in at 13a because – well, it was obvious. Then I couldn’t fathom the wordplay because – well that became obvious.

    I enjoyed what I could do in the time available but had to take several shortcuts, and eagerly await the review for a few of the explanations.

    Thanks to JollySwagman for the puzzle and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

      • Crikey, I’ve missed something here! Do I need to call Mr. K and advise him to get home on the first flight? A Frenchman bearing gifts of roses sounds like a marvellous recipe for turning a girl’s head – I’m told he can cook quite well into the bargain!..http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  16. Thanks for all the comments so far.

    I would have popped in earlier but I didn’t want to be a gooseberry.

    Not wanting to steal Prolixic’s thunder but if you have a spare S in 21/33 try thinking of the ‘s as has – ie the S doesn’t go into the mix.

    I thought having a spare H in 14/8 would be a more common problem – think Latin to get rid of that.

    I’ll try to pop back after Prolixic’s review has gone up.

    • I thought the ‘s would probably be OK, but I’ve never seen it, so I await the verdict. You can have [fodder A] with [fodder B] [anagrind], you can have [fodder A] and [fodder B][anagrind], so why not [fodder A] has [fodder B][anagrind], just as if it was a charade, but then jumbled?

  17. Many thanks for an informative and thorough review Prolixic. I also couldn’t find the abbreviation D for down (18d) in brb or online Collins, I may have missed it. I missed the Jazz musician reference (21d), and wondered about fin(is)h (14/8) until JS gave us the Latin hint.

    I know JS likes his crossword liberties, so I’m already grateful 26a was indicated. and I must brush up on my Latin – Thanks again and congratulations JS, what an effort! Looking forward to the next one

  18. Thank you Prolixic for an extremely thorough and enlightening review that reinforced some of my reservations.

  19. A masterpiece of a review, Prolixic – many thanks indeed.
    Well done for explaining the tortuous 14/8 wordplay – I wonder how many people actually got around to working it out?
    Of the ones I couldn’t parse, I certainly should have registered gold=best and bans=outlaws (I was into entirely different types of outlaws and had forgotten jo=sweetheart).
    I simply didn’t know that Land was sufficient on its own for the German connection and hadn’t heard of the jazz musician.
    Through pure chance, I’d happened upon 27d in a Google search for Arcadia – I was unfamiliar with the painting and got the answer by using just the last couple of words in the clue.

    An interesting experience!

    • I was similarly stumped by land! I’d like to add my thanks to Prolixic – very useful.

      – ENCOTA –

  20. Just to correct one of the parsings.

    In 14a/8a “Island community” gives CI (abbr for Channel Islands supported by most UK English dictionaries) which is then reversed.

    I got the surface meaning of that phrase from a 2009 article on this subject in The New Yorker – The Courthouse Ring by Malcom Gladwell) – which is still visible on the internet.

    Hence A TT revCI(US FIN(is))CH (which was supplied)
    As opposed to A TT rev(C I)(US FIN(is))CH

    BTW Dutch @21 – thanks for:

    “I also couldn’t find the abbreviation D for down (18d) …”

    Sorry – I’m snowed under just now. I’ll try to pop back later to explain some of the allusions etc.

    • Thanks JS, that is useful. Channel islands was my reading given “reflects”, but I was struggling with honour=C? rather than CH if we had Fin(is)h until you helped with the Latin hint.

      btw the enumeration helped me a lot to get 6/28, I guessed the first 2 words then needed google – would have been quite a bit harder were it one word

      Thanks again

    • I considered this option but CI is Channel Island[b]s[\b] so would need Island Communities as a minimum or community of Islands. I don’t think that “Island Community” on its own fairly clues CI.

  21. Thanks for the comments – those who enjoyed it.

    I had this puzzle test-solved by an expert – like me a lifelong solver and admirer of the puzzles of Araucaria – the all-time doyen of setters – so technically I have no problem with any of the clues (one or two of which were slightly amended as a result of that process) so I’m really not interested in ximenean quibbles about a manifestly non-ximenean puzzle.

    A few other matters arising:

    1: Content of themed puzzles.

    I don’t buy the proposition that a puzzle themed on a play or a book should automatically be expected to reference all the principal characters. Looking at how major setters have handled this over time I think there are examples where they go to great lengths to squeeze
    all the obvious suspects in and others where they only reference
    a few of the less obvious ones.

    2: Big Jim Folsom

    Solvers were not expected to know of Big Jim Folsom. It was easily buildable from the cross-checkers and the wordplay and might have led those of an enquiring frame of mind to investigate further and discover his relevance in relation to the re-evaluation of Atticus Finch in the light of the newly released sequel.

    Araucaria used to sometimes throw in things like that – things you could follow up on afterwards.

    3. The length of 1a. Obviously I could have omitted the fact that Peck only got one Oscar – I could even have omitted the hint that a film star was needed and just given “he” as a definition. I preferred to put that information in as I found it surprising that the actor whose performance was so magisterial in the themed film should only have been awarded one major gong by his fellow luvvies.
    ================================================
    I actually put this together not longer after the second Harper Lee book was released – that’s a fair while ago now – so I tried solving it myself. I have to say I was actually rather pleased with it. I think there was some beginners’ luck in squeezing the thematic material in and also finding a few extra layers and allusions in some of the clues – but (I’ll admit it) I had to look at my own notes to parse 14a, 8a (expl: a is an abbreviation for across).

    Anyway – thanks all – especially BD for hosting and of course Prolixic for the blog. Prolixic: I know you mean well by trying to groom me as a Church Times setter but I’m sorry to say it’s not one of my ambitions.

  22. BTW – apologies to those who live in any of the few remaining areas of London in which not only is English still the lingua franca but also the denizens don’t normally drop their aitches.

    I have to say that because my girlfriend was brought up in Ealing (I was in fact born there but have no memories of it) and she assures me that the cockney H-dropping is an East London (rather than West London) thing – or at least back then it was .

    Probably Paris would have been a better bet – or anywhere in France – Nice and ones which are the same as a girl’s name can be handy. H is never pronounced in France and of course French people have great difficulty with it when they first learn English.

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