Rookie Corner – 136

A Puzzle by Arepo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have Arepo’s latest puzzle. 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.

This was a high standard of crossword from Arepo.  There are no major issues on the wordplay, just some thoughts and observations on the clues.
 
Across
1 King to be protected by officer, having spoken to commander (8)
CORPORAL – An abbreviation for king goes inside (protected by) an informal term for a policemen (officer) and this is followed by a word meaning spoken.  Although the definition is not wrong, the answer being a leader of a group of miners, it seems wrong at first reading without further investigation to see if there is a more obscure definition of the word.  It may be better to avoid this as people simply assume that the setter is wrong in the defined term.  Because the wordplay is clear, perhaps having spoken to miners’ leader might have avoided this.
6 Utterly pleasant evening coming to an end (6)
FINITE – A homophone (utterly) of FINE (pleasant) NIGHT (evening).
9 Enclosures including extravagant and modest dwellings (8)
COTTAGES – A word for enclosures or pens includes a word meaning extravagant.
10 Waste time pursuing Home Counties wife (6)
SEWAGE – A word for a period of time comes after (pursuing) the abbreviation for the part of England where the Home Counties are situated and the abbreviation for wife.
11 Treasure hunter came across film in battered old crate (5,8)
METAL DETECTOR – A word meaning encountered or came across followed by the two letter word for a schmaltzy film about an alien inside (in) an anagram (battered) of O (old) CRATE.
13 Old American chief dropping in makes Joplin remix Mozart number (5,1,4)
JAMES K POLK – An anagram (remix) of JOPL (Joplin dropping in) MAKES followed by the letter used to catalogue the works of Mozart.  Although not wrong to do so, cluing more obscure answers (how many old American chiefs are there, both Presidential and Native American) as anagrams gives the solver a hard time, particularly when the checking letters are not favourable.  Here the checkers were more favourable but it is a point to watch when setting.
15 “Leak” misspelt is a vegetable (4)
KALE – An anagram (misspelt) of LEAK.
16 Hearing little darling start to read out loud (4)
DEAF – A word for darling with final R (start) to read omitted (out) followed by the musical abbreviation for loud.  Very well disguised definition here.
18 Media outlets‘ primarily nepotist ed wants organisation to welcome sons (10)
NEWSSTANDS – The first letter (primarily) of nepotist (perhaps nepotistic might have been a better word to link with the ed in the clue) followed by an anagram (organisation) of ED WANTS with the inclusion (to welcome) the abbreviation for sons.
21 What director says about theatrical works (the parts that get shown again) (6,7)
ACTION REPLAYS – The word that the director says to start filming followed by a two letter word meaning about and another word for theatrical works.
24 Plus-size model surrounded by plus-size haters (6)
BIGOTS – A word meaning large (plus-size) followed by the letter of a model of Ford Car surrounded by another word meaning large (plus-size).
25 See what’s on sale here: singular drug to take without undergoing withdrawal (8)
SHOWROOMS – The informal term for magic mushrooms includes a reversal (undergoing withdrawal) of an abbreviation meaning without.
26 Stargazer’s alignment with similarly zany guy on vacation (6)
SYZYGY – The outer letters (on vacation) of the fourth to sixth letters of the clue.
27 Come back out with grass cut by combine (8)
REEMERGE – A four letter word for grass with the final letter removed (cut) followed by a word meaning to combine. The usual rule for hyphenating RE- words that mean doing something again is that you include a hyphen when the vowel is doubled in the resulting word.
 
Down
2 Down under a hen, possibly to get protection from the sun (5,5)
OZONE LAYER – A two letter word for Australia (down under) followed by a word meaning A and a description of a hen.
3 Outskirts of paradise boasting volcano, the source of milk and honey? (3,4)
PET NAME – The first and last (outskirts) of paradise includes (boasting) the name of an Italian volcano and the first letter (source) of milk.
4 Cold decapitated stiff (5)
RIGID – A word meaning cold with the first letter removed (decapitated).  I think that decapitated ought to be avoided as a deletion indicator in current times.  In published puzzles, even if not immediately contentious, by the time it appears it could coincide with news events.
5 Drunk horse eaten by lion in Africa (7)
LESOTHO – A three letter word for a drunk and the abbreviation for heroin or horse inside the Latin word for a lion.  You often find prepositional indicators such as in Africa to indicate a place in Africa.  Personally, I don’t like them but they are used regularly.
6 Concocts absorbing sort of cold dish (4,5)
FISH CAKES – A word meaning concocts or makes something up includes a suffix meaning sort of and the abbreviation for cold.
7/23 Labour wonkery 101: try to oust right for cultural capital (3,4,4)
NEW YORK CITY – An anagram (labour) of WONKERY followed by the Roman numerals for 101 and the letters of try without (to oust) the abbreviation for right.  Wonkery is in Miriam-Webster’s dictionary but not in the main British dictionaries and should, possibly, have been avoided.  The whole clue feels contrived and out of place in set in the midst of a fine collection of cluesI am not sure what about the answer makes it specifically a cultural capital. 
8 Ire from Latin state? (4)
TOGO – The English verb from the Latin Ire.  Perhaps needing to know the Latin verb is too much of a stretch.

12 From dawn till dusk, daughter injected to ease ache (3,3,4)
ALL DAY LONG – The abbreviation for daughter and word meaning to ease followed by a word meaning to ache or pine for something.

14 Russian artist, grand and cloudlike? (9)
KANDINSKY – The abbreviation for 1000 (grand) followed by the AND from the clue and a phrase 2,3 that could meaning cloudlike.
17 Means of production‘s nothing to cry about (7)
FACTORY – An abbreviation meaning nothing (as in Fanny Adams) and an anagram (about) of TO CRY.
19 Moving air originally sung by soldiers to royal family (7)
WINDSOR – A word for a breeze or moving air followed by the first letter (originally) of sung and the abbreviation for other ranks (soldiers).
20 Generally loose (2,5)
AT LARGE – A double definition.
22 Run away, retreating south perhaps, then east (5)
ELOPE – A reversal (retreating) of something magnetic of which South is an example (perhaps) followed by the abbreviation for east.
23 See 7

54 Comments

  1. JollySwagman
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Thanks Arepo – great solve – a bit of everything in here.

    Some brilliant wordplays.

    Eg 16a (my last in) – really neat – we clearly need a term to describe the opposite of “lift-and-separate” (in its original cruciverbal sense) – ie take two words together when the obvious reading separates them – I’m thinking of “hearing little” obviously. Double-tick from me.

    13a I had vaguely heard of – love Mozart number for K – I guessed it was going to be that long before I got the rest of it. In a way that gave the puzzle an addictive quality – had to do the rest of it to see how that one worked out – a bit like the cliff-hanger at the end of every episode of a well-written soap opera.

    15a I thought was a bit sappy – below the standard of the rest of the clues – although the odd gimme is always appreciated.

    21a I liked “what director says” – particularly as it then blended in well with the surface. In general some neat surfaces arising out of nifty wordplays – sometimes the one can compromise the other – not so here.

    17d I also ticked – I could have ticked many more – the interest/solving satisfaction level was very high.

    My only quibble would be that 6d should have been one word and 27a should have been hyphenated. I suppose you’ll say that the BRB (Chambers) offers those versions – can’t check that just now – maybe so but that tome is notoriously full of spurious (from a normal point of view) odds and ends (which was what gave them the Scrabble gig – which they’ve now lost) so for the more normal usage it often pays to check with the other ones too; they typically offer less options.

    Very well done – many thanks – hope to wee more.

    • JollySwagman
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 1:54 am | Permalink

      Oops – that should obviously be “hope to *see* more”.

      Frequency inadvertently referred to more than adequate already.

    • JollySwagman
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 2:01 am | Permalink

      I won’t reveal it so early but when you get it looking up the answer to 13a in Wikipedia (and the associated phrase – which has topical relevance) will easily repay the small effort involved.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Thanks JS – glad you enjoyed it. Particularly pleased about the “addictive” comment – definitely something I aspire to, glad it hit the mark here.

      15a is definitely a bit of a silly one – interesting to see a range of responses to it. On a bad day I might dislike it too.

      I’m never sure about hyphenated / two word (or should that be two-word) arguments – my source for both was the first online dictionary I found, so I’m sure I’m wrong. I’ll take greater care over it next time.

      Topicality for 13a was of course completely accidental – of course when I set and submitted this I had as little inkling as anyone else that things would go that way – and the timing was just fortuitous.

      Thanks again for the kind words!

  2. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    We found this one quite a challenge but a very rewarding one when we eventually got it worked out. Still a bit of sorting out to do on some of the clues which we will do later. Our brains not as sharp as they should be after the sleep deprivation caused by all the Shake Rattle and Roll we had last night.
    Thanks Arepo.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks 2k, glad you enjoyed the challenge!

  3. Gazza
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Great puzzle with some lovely misdirections – thanks Arepo. I didn’t know the drug in 25a which required some assistance from Google. I particularly enjoyed 3d, 12d and 17d but my favourite, for the beautifully disguised definition, is 16a.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Gazza – glad it was to your taste. 16a was definitely towards the top of my “most pleased with” list so it’s nice to see others liked it too.

  4. dutch
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Many thanks Arepo

    this was excellent – a nice addictive solve and high quality clueing.

    16a and 8d were my last ones in – I think 16a is brilliant for its surface and well constructed wordplay and definition, I think it is my favourite, though many clues are excellent. I liked 8d as well because it worked oppositely to how i thought initially, but it did highlight my ignorance of Latin.

    Other ticks include 6a, very smooth, 15a, cute with the obvious misdirection, 14d, I like the wordplay, and 17d which made me laugh. 24a is good too.

    I’m doing something stupidly wrong with 25a, the way I’m reading the wordplay I get only half the answer. I’ll have another look later

    I liked the wordplay in 13d and the surface is bizarre which makes it interesting.

    BRB indeed has 6d as 2 words, JS, but it does show a hyphen for 27a.

    7/23 is a fun clue but I could not find wonkery in any dictionary – i doubt any editor would let you get away with that

    Use of decapitated (4d) can be a bit emotive as an unpleasant reminder of current atrocities

    Many thanks and congratulations on a wonderful puzzle

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      Thanks dutch! “Cute” was more or less what I was going for with 15a, I’m glad that particular clue had its fans.

      Also glad you found the surface in 13 was interestingly bizarre – putting it together I was worried it fell more on the “nonsense” side, but decided in the end that it had a nice surrealism to it.

      I suppose I more or less made up the word wonkery – though I can guarantee you without googling that at least one political blog will have used it – very informal and it certainly wouldn’t make the Times, but I thought the end result was nice enough to justify it. I guess that was a misjudgement since everyone else seems to have hated it, but c’est la vie, eh? Thanks again for the feedback :)

      • dutch
        Posted November 15, 2016 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

        making up words for anagram fodder is in general a definite no-no. I was surprised Prolixic found it in a dictionary.

  5. silvanus
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Welcome back Arepo,

    Your best puzzle yet in my opinion, many of the clues (and surfaces) were top drawer, and I found myself awarding double ticks several times. The good ones far outweighed the poor ones which always means a novice setter is on the right track. The last three or four answers for me took much longer than the rest combined, and I had to utilise Google to confirm 13a, my LOI.

    My double ticks went to 11a, 12d and 19d, with single ticks going to 10a, 13a, 15a, 21a, 3d, 4d, 6d and 8d (love a bit of Latin!). 6a earned a half tick as I’m not totally convinced of the homophone.

    My quibbles included the definition in 1a and the abbreviation in 5d (I’ve only seen it in compound words before), and there were a few instances where the clues could have been improved, such as:

    18a – the adjective “nepotistic” ought to replace the noun “nepotist” I feel.
    26a – “alignment” was misspelt.
    7d/23a – your weakest clue and an awful contrived anagram to be frank.
    14d – can a person be described as “cloudlike”? I don’t think so.
    17d – a pity to include “cry” (i.e. the same letters from the answer) when “shout” or something similar could have been used.

    Overall a noticeable improvement from your last effort. “With” looked a little uncomfortable as a link word in both 26a and 27a, and “by” was repeated in 27a and 19d, but there were fewer such instances this time.

    Congratulations, Arepo, this was very entertaining indeed.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      I think you parsed 17d wrong.
      Two letter expression for sweet nothing only seen in other newspapers and an anagram of “to cry”.

      • silvanus
        Posted November 14, 2016 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Hi J-L,

        I took “to cry about” as meaning “to” with “cry” surrounding it (i.e. “about”), but I concede your interpretation works equally well! Perhaps Arepo will drop by later to explain what he intended.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the comment silvanus! First things first, yes, JL’s parsing of 17d was what I intended. Though yours also works. Though I agree your parsing weakens the clue.

      The homophone in 6a works for me (well he would say that, wouldn’t he?) as long as you run the Ns together. Maybe not an exact one-to-one, but for me part of the fun of a homophone is the inexactness. (Some people call them groaners – I choose to believe they’re talking about groans of pleasure!)

      Kicking myself over the misaligment in 26a. That’s just carelessness.

      18a – fair play. I confess, I thought ‘nepotist’ was an adjective too – nepotistic still sounds weird to me – maybe I’m right and the English language is wrong :) (Though googling throws up ‘nepotic’ as an alternative from a not necessarily reputable dictionary – valid or not, that is a cracking word.)

      14d – can a person be described as cloudlike? I think so! And so did Wordsworth… ;)

      This was the first puzzle I’ve submitted where I made an active effort to police my use of link words, so I’m glad that came across. Thanks again for the feedback!

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      PS: on “horse” = H. It’s one of these ones I’ve seen around – hold the phone, I’ve used it in an RC submission before! I think the context that makes it work is horse = heroin = H, but maybe I’m mistaken.

      …also, considering some felt the hallucinogenic in 25a was too obscure, I’m already starting to feel a little morally degenerate, so I’ll stop before I further incriminate myself.

  6. Rabbit Dave
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    As ever I agree almost verbatim with Silvanus. He has listed most of my likes (my double ticks also went to 11a, 12d & 19d, although I would also add 2d) and my concerns (particularly the definition in 1a and the very clunky and contrived 7d/23a). I too needed Google for 13a which was also my LOI, and I agree that many of the surfaces were excellent!

    8d stretched my memory of schoolboy Latin almost to its limits. Although the answer is obvious, I can’t parse 25a at all and so I will need to wait patiently for tomorrow’s review.

    Well done, Arepo, and many thanks for the entertainment.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Just got the parsing for 25a when I remembered something magical, had a hunch, and verified it using Google. It does seem to need a rather obscure bit of knowledge but perhaps I’ve led too much of a sheltered life in spite of having lived for three years in Notting Hill in the late 60s.

      • silvanus
        Posted November 14, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Haha, I’ve clearly led a sheltered life too as I eventually got to the answer the same way!

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted November 14, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          :lol:

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the comments RD!

      Speaking as a civilian, the definition in 1a still seems fine to me. There is also a separate rank called commander, sure, but taking a more literal reading, isn’t a 1a responsible for commanding a section? Same as a football coach is a teacher even though they’d have trouble joining the NUT. Maybe I’m being too stretchy though.

  7. jane
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Can’t say that I formed an overall opinion of this one as it seemed to swing rather erratically from the frankly poor (15a) to the really good (11a in particular) with several relative obscurities and slightly ‘iffy’ definitions in between.

    I don’t mean to run it down – I thought 9,10&11a plus 3& 4d were extremely good and, despite reservations from Silvanus, ‘cloudlike’ amused me (although I didn’t know the gentleman referred to). 17d also appealed although I suspect my initial parsing would be considered extremely non-PC!

    13a & the 7/23 combo I thought were too convoluted and I’m not convinced that the definition of the latter is necessarily accurate.
    Likewise, as others have mentioned, the definition at 1a doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

    27a needed the hyphenation and the 26a typo was extremely unfortunate, coming in the clue for such an obscure and very difficult to spell answer!

    Like Dutch, I’m only halfway there with the parsing of 25a – I suspect it’s knowledge of drugs that’s letting me down – and my Latin is obviously equally poor as 8d remains a mystery.

    Thank you, Arepo – I’m most interested to see what you finally arrive at in terms of personal style.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Like you I didn’t much like the definition at 1a but on consulting the BRB I see that it can mean ‘the leader of a group of miners, etc.’. Then, of course, there’s the emperor Napoleon’s little nickname.

    • Starhorse
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Jane’s overall sentiment of it being a mixed bag. I was grateful for the simplicity of 15a though, and 11a was fine for me.

      7/23 was the clue I liked least, partly for the totally subjective definition. Doesn’t just about everywhere like to find some reason to claim it’s a cultural capital? Well, maybe not Scunthorpe or Runcorn, but you know what I mean. (I was going to say Macclesfield but Dutch might ne lurking…)

      Having said that, there are some very nice surfaces and some nice constructions – I double ticked 21a, 12d, 22d, 2d, and 5d.

      I found the whole thing instructive in one way though because the flow of clues into the bottom left hand corner was quite hard, and that’s not something I think about much when setting. I struggled to make sense of 7/23 and thought perhaps it would have been better to clue the 7 part on its own, and go for something different in 23. Had the last letter of 17 also been changed to an S then the awful word in 26a could have been avoided altogether. Having unknowns in 13a and 14d didn’t help get into that corner.

      Incidentally, putting aside the typo in 26a, having cheated to fill in the answer and then Googled it, wouldn’t it be the stars that align, rather than the stargazers?

      Also in 4d, the wordplay could read either as decapitate a word for cold to leave one meaning stiff, or vice versa. Both words have a lot of synonyms so it might be taking a bit of a risk that there could be a second valid answer.

      Thanks for this Arepo. Are you US-based by the way? I thought with the slang in 7d, the bloke in 13a and the awful phrase “plus-size” wherever that was that you might be.

      • Starhorse
        Posted November 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        Meant to add, I’m also in the can’t parse 25a group, but apparently alone in not being able to unravel 6d’s wordplay.

        • Gazza
          Posted November 14, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

          For 6d you need a verb meaning concocts or fabricates containing a suffix meaning ‘sort of’ or ‘in the fashion of’ and the abbrevitaion for cold.

          • Starhorse
            Posted November 14, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

            Ha, right, thanks, I was reading cold as cod so having put it in from crossers I had assumed the definition was “sort of cod dish”!

      • dutch
        Posted November 14, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        what’s wrong with Runcorn?

        • Kath
          Posted November 14, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Who knows – has anyone ever been there?

          • Rabbit Dave
            Posted November 14, 2016 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

            I have, and I didn’t see any signs of culture there.

      • Arepo
        Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Starhorse. I think you have a point about the def in 7/23 – though I think this particular city does get referred to as such an awful lot (and definitively – THE cultural capital of the States, not A). That doesn’t really justify it though. That clue really did have more shortcomings than I thought.

        Interesting thoughts about the structure – you’re right that the bottom left is a bit inaccessible – one of those things you just don’t notice as a setter (or I don’t, anyway). Something to watch out for in future.

        The “stargazer’s” in 26a is supposed to be synonymous for “astronomy-related” (kind of like “poet’s always” = E’ER and the like), rather than literally denoting an alignment of stargazers. Perhaps it works – I think it does – I’m biased – you be the judge.

        Finally, no, I’ve never even been to America – though I can see why you’d think it given some of the subject matter.

        Thanks again for the comments – edifying as always!

        PS Given my own slipshod approach to orthography elsewhere in the puzzle, I can’t blame you for reading ‘cold’ as ‘cod’ ;)

    • Kath
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Ah – now I see what you mean about the non PC first parsing of 17d – it was pretty obvious to me but now I can see the probably correct alternative – can’t really see the difference really – we all know what it means.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the feedback jane – comments taken on board.

      I don’t know if there’s a “correct” etymology for the sweet nothing in 17d – Wiki seems to think Miss Adams came first, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was just a Victorian back-formation to cover the more vulgar interpretation. As Kath says, it doesn’t really matter from a crosswording perspective.

  8. Jeroboam
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyable puzzle. The misdirections are top drawer and contribute to an excellent mixture of clues. Thanks Arepo.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Jer, glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Kath
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    That was good fun – I’ll leave the technical stuff to those who know what they’re talking about.
    I’ve been ‘had’ by a ‘K’ twice today – 14d, as I always forget that a ‘K’ can be a ‘grand’ and the Mozart number – a pity my name begins with one.
    I can’t do 6a and although I want to ‘bung in’ an answer to 8d I can’t see why so will leave it and have another think later.
    Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life too but I don’t get my answer to 25a.
    I did misspell ‘leak’to get a vegetable but my vegetable was a ‘leek’ which did very little for 7 and 12d. :roll:
    Lots of good clues – 10 and 16a and 3, 6 and 17d.
    Thanks and well done to Arepo for the rainy afternoon entertainment, and in advance to Prolixic.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kath, thanks for the comments – glad you had fun with it. Sorry about 15a – the misdirection was of course intentional, though intended to cause amusement rather than frustration – perhaps it backfired…

  10. Maize
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Well with a name like Arepo I suppose we could expect a bit of Latin, but I needed a bit of a hint from dutch above to get 8d which, in combination with the clever homophone at 6a, held me up a bit at the end.

    But oh what a treat! I loved this from start to (almost) finish. Virtually all the clues have ticks by them with doubles for 11a, 2d, 6d and 14d. Also noteworthy were 13a – quite a challenge to clue that one!, 16a for its inventiveness, 26a for a clever way of cluing (again) a challenging word, and 8d, for which I wished I knew more – but now I do! It’s very similar to the French future tense though, I suppose.

    My only quibble would be with 5d, where the definition is ‘in Africa’ but should maybe be ‘somewhere in Africa’. Also I thought a reversal of the last four letters of 25a being defined as ‘take’ was a bit of a stretch (if I’ve parsed it correctly).

    But overall a sparkling, brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable crossword. Many thanks.

    And why not put in the Sator square for good measure:

    S A T O R
    A R E P O
    T E N E T
    O P E R A
    R O T A S

    • Gazza
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think you’ve got the parsing of 25a right. It’s the singular form of an informal name for some ‘magical’ drugs containing the reversal of the abbreviation for ‘without’.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Maize, I think you have parsed 25a incorrectly. I went down the same wrong route as you initially thinking that the first two letters were derived from singular & drug. In fact, they are the first two letters of the singular form of a slang abbreviation for a drug!
      :wacko:

      • Maize
        Posted November 14, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Gazza & RD – quibble retracted. We never called it that in my day!!

    • dutch
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      thanks guys – finally have 25a – not sure i would have managed by myself.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Maize – glad to see it landed well with you.

      The presence of some challenging (for the setter) words was not entirely unintentional – I didn’t deliberately try and slot every Scrabble player’s favourite word into 26a, but once it was there I shrugged and decided to go for it. Same for a few other awkward words that crept in – it was a good bit of exercise.

      For 5d: I think that grammatically you’re absolutely right. But “in X” meaning “a place in X” is a construction that I have seen so often in crosswords that I thought I must be missing something, and decided to go for it. Sometimes when I’m on the fence about using a particular device in an RC puzzle I decide to go with it just to see what people think of it… I have to agree though, the “somewhere” is unambiguously better.

      Thanks again for the kind words!

      • Maize
        Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

        Cheers Arepo. I once submitted a similar clue to Alberich in which I clued ‘ridge’ as ‘Topless game of cards on a rooftop’. He suggested that I add the word ‘seen’ before ‘in’.
        He thought my lapse forgivable as a new setter, but was aware that experienced setters do it all too often. I think he’s right!

        • Maize
          Posted November 14, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

          I meant ‘seen’ before ‘on’, of course.

  11. jean-luc cheval
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Still a couple to solve but I have to go out.
    Wanted to thank Arepo before leaving.
    Enjoyed the surface in 11a, 12a and 19d a lot.
    16a was great too.
    Said oh la la in 17d. Naughty.
    Thanks again for the fun.
    Keep it up.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      Thanks JL, I certainly will :)

  12. snape
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice to come back (after a few weeks of being horrendously busy) to a really enjoyable puzzle. A few unparsed, and I’d agree with 7/23 being a bit weak, but many nice wordplays and good surfaces. My favourites were 12d, 17d, 19d and 24a. (Hoskins had a fine clue in yesterday’s IoS puzzle not dissimilar to 17d: Nothing about May’s party works (9) )

    It is worth noting that many find 4-letter anagrams unsatisfactory, so the surface really has to stand out for it to be worth it. I actually quite liked 15a, though, with the little prod towards ‘leek’.
    Thank you Arepo, and to Prolixic in advance.

    • Arepo
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      Thanks snape – glad you enjoyed it!

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      So sorry we missed each other in York.
      Hope to see you again soon.

  13. Posted November 14, 2016 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    I found this hard to get into and hard to finish, but I’m short of both time and brains at the moment. There were some smoother patches in between, at least. In the end I did use some reveals here and there and skimmed the blog comments too.

    So a bit of a fail for me. Not for you, however. I found lots to like, and will mention 11a, 16a, 24a, 3d, 12d, 17d (liked the sweet nothing!) and 19d.

    Many thanks, Arepo. Well done :good:. Thanks also in advance to Prolixic for the review which I will need to answer a couple of outstanding questions.

  14. Kath
    Posted November 15, 2016 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Prolixic for sorting out my 6a and 8d problems. I would never have got either of them so feeling a bit better now.
    Thanks again to Arepo.

  15. Beet
    Posted November 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I know I am late but I had to pop in and say that I really enjoyed this one very much. 13 and 16 defeated me, and the rest were only chipped away at gradually – a nice challenge with lots of effective misdirection and nice little twists from the ordinary. I particularly liked “utterly” as a homophone indicator, the two different “plus sizes”, 4d and 8d also. Lots of creativity here.

  16. jane
    Posted November 15, 2016 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for the review, Prolixic and particularly for the explanation of 8d. I’d finally settled for TOGA on the flimsy excuse that IRE is the last three letters of ATTIRE.
    Think the anagram part of 11a requires OLD to be used in full – not just the ‘O’.

    Thanks again to Arepo. By the way, you didn’t answer the question regarding your domicile – are you either in or from the USA?