A Puzzle by Metatron
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Metatron’s debut puzzle uses an American-style grid and contains what he believes is the longest anagram found in a crossword. 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.
A review by Prolixic follows.
Welcome to Metatron. This was a crossword of heroic proportions dominated by a long anagram, which may have put some solvers off. It reminded me of the old nursery rhyme, “There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good, she was very, very good and when she was bad, she was horrid.”
There were a lot of very good clues here. There were some that were far from good. In part, this was because many of the clues required a large amount of specialist general knowledge. The design of the grid did not help with some unfriendly parts of the grid, particularly with 11d.
My advice would be concentrate on creating a crossword using a standard British 15 x 15 grid and to rein back on the requirement for general knowledge. Doing this would give Metatron the opportunity to demonstrate his or her strengths.
1/12/25/40/17/26/18/31 Wherein Marc B’s kind betray flyaway tonsure ownership to their new option: the astro-threader (2,6,4,4,3,3,3,2,5,4,3,3,6, 7,2,4,5,2,5,5)
MY PEOPLE WERE FAIR AND HAD SKY IN THEIR HAIR BUT NOW THEY’RE CONTENT TO WEAR STARS ON THEIR BROWS – An anagram (unindicated) of the all of the words in the clue with the words being a semi-alliterative alternative to the phrase to be found. Long anagrams will not always find favour. Finding this originally with no enumeration did not help. Whether or not it is a record, I do not know as the grid size being 17 x 17 makes comparisons irrelevant. However, it was a feat of engineering to get the surface reading to allude to the solution.
9 Freak out about recall of treatment for contagion (8)
PANDEMIC – A five letter word meaning to freak out around a reversal (recall of) an abbreviation form of medicine (treatment)
10 Case notes cover one agency ruling on Marvin Gaye’s death (8)
FILICIDE – A four letter word for a dossier that may hold case notes around the letter for one and the abbreviation for Criminal Investigation Department (agency).
12 See 1
15 The 44a 45a of 18d (5)
ONERE – Apparently the ablative singular in Latin of the answer to 18d. Having to know Latin declensions to solve a crossword is a little too much for my liking.
16 Robot sloth (2)
AI – Double definition, the first being the abbreviation for Artificial Intelligence and the second the name of a sloth.
17 See 1
18 See 1
22 Fashionable crowd (detail) (5)
INSET – A two letter word meaning fashionable followed by a three letter word for a crowd.
24 Suet mix found in artery (5)
AORTA – An anagram (mix) of a brand of suet (ATORA). Indirect anagrams are nearly always banned. This is a good illustration of why this is the case. Unless you know that there is a proprietary brand of suet, you stand not a chance of solving the clue from the wordplay.
25 See 1
26 See 1
31 See 1
35 Reaffirmation of night music from canyon (7)
ECHOING – The night music is Eine Kline Nachtmusik. The setter in a staggering stretch of imagination requires the solver to know that the music is in the key of G so that its reverberation in a canyon would be ???? IN G. This is not a step to far in what is required of the solver’s knowledge, it is a long-jump of Olympic proportions.
36 Bird known as onomatopoeic lapsing into coma in front of sex worker (6)
HOOPOE – Take the letters from INTO COMA from onomatopoeic and put the letters that remain after (the clue should therefore say behind, not in front of) a two letter word for a prostitute or sex worker.
37 Academic code (2)
OX – The two letter postcode designation for Oxford.
39 In Holland, it’s said, they smell terrible (5)
OVENS – I suspect that only Dutch would have got this clue (though I hope for his family’s sake he does not indulge). In Holland the practice of farting under the bedclothes is referred to as making a Dutch oven. Again the setter requires us to be something of a polymath knowing Dutch idioms.
40 See 1
44 How to address one in the third person (8)
SINGULAR – How you would describe “third person ?????????” when referring to the grammatical construction of a sentence in which one (or perhaps the setter) is described.
45 Shred bat alive, in case of Roman pursuit (8)
ABLATIVE – The grammatical theme continues with one of the cases in which Latin nouns are declined coming from an anagram (shred) of BAT ALIVE. I think that the “pursuit” could have been omitted as it does not directly contribute to the wordplay or the solution.
46 Sunshine Desserts? (7,9)
CHASING YESTERDAY – An online search reveals this to be the album title created by Noel Gallagher. I have no idea how this relates to the definition.
1 Bad poem, sad look (4)
MOPE – An anagram (bad) of POEM.
2 The word is out (4,4)
PINK NEWS – The name of the newspaper for the Lesbian Gay and Transgender community.
3 Need a cold shower after maiden, perhaps comes round (8)
OVERHEAT – A spell of six balls (maiden perhaps) followed by (comes) a word for a round in a tournament.
4 Penny stashed in hideaways for Scottish nobility (6)
LAIRDS – The abbreviation for an old penny inside (stashed in) a word for hideaways
5 Socialist sent up before me for therapy (5)
REIKI – Reverse (sent up) the first name of the Labour politician Mr Hardie and follow by a single letter representing the setter (me). Unfortunately, to make the clue work, you have to misspell the first name of the politician!
6 You can’t make an omelette without breaking a fit tart (8)
FRITTATA – An anagram (breaking) of A FIT TART.
7 Chemical compound advertising it’s a constituent of MDMA (5)
IMINE – Split 2, 2, 1, the clue would say I am in ecstasy (MDMA).
8 Heroin: great in Liverpool (4)
GEAR – Double definition of a slang word for heroin and the vernacular in Merseyside for great.
11 Mrs Heisenberg trades titanium for emerald with a receiver (6,5)
SKYLER GREEN – … the name of an obscure National Football League receiver. Apparently Skyler White was the name of Walter White’s wife in Breaking Bad. Walter White was also known as Heisenberg. Swap paint pigments (Green for White) to get the answer. I could devote pages to explaining everything that is wrong with this clue. It builds obscure general knowledge upon obscure general knowledge. Given that the clue had three checking letters out of eleven, with two triple unches and an unchecked initial letter, I think that this must represent the pinnacle of unfairness to the solver. Confession, I looked at Metatron’s explanation for this clue.
12 Unknown composer of repetitive song decapitated (4)
ANON – Remove (decapitated) the initial letter from a repetitive song form.
13 Medical rapper supplies drug to tolerate in Scotland… (4)
DREE – Put the abbreviation for ecstasy after the name of a medical rapper.
14 Hello, woman of the night – off to work? (2,2)
HI HO – A two letter word for Hello followed by a word for a prostitute (already used in 36a)
15 …useless and disorienting too I see, taking it (6)
OTIOSE – An anagram (disorientating) of TOO I SEE after removing an E. I think that the instruction to remove the E comes from the use of the ellipsis following on from 13d but this is not clear enough. Ellipsis clue should be restricted to successive clues.
18 The burden we see is ours (4)
ONUS – Split 2,2 this would mean (potentially) is ours.
19 Her Majesty’s sign of an inherited impediment (1,1)
ER – Double definition of the regnal cypher for the current Queen and a speech impediment.
20 Curry in 1990, dredged from sewer and refried in 2017 (2)
IT – A reference to the Stephen King book turned into a film with Curry in 1990 and re-issued in 2017. More detailed general knowledge required here.
21 Improved pay for shavers, we hear (6)
RAISES – A homophone (we hear) of razors. Perhaps the clue should be Improves pay.
23 Chinese family with gangster – wait here (4)
HANG – The name of a Chinese dynasty or family followed by the rapper abbreviation for gangster.
27 Alpha male, according to close friends (1,1)
TC – The name by which Top Cat was known according to his close friends from the opening lyrics.
28 Eureka! the Monarch said (2)
AH – A homophone (said) of R (monarch).
29 The extent of our flamenco tomato plant (4)
ROOT – The final letters of the final four words of the clue. An indicator that the final letters need to be taken is required here.
30 Take two of these twice a day (3,5)
SIX HOURS – The period of time representing a quarter of a day.
31 Mathematician probed by federal agency at Sunday market (4,4)
BOOT SALE – The abbreviation for Transport Security Administration inside the name of the mathematician who devised the system of Boolean logic. The abbreviation is not one recognised in British dictionaries.
32 Curiosity’s mission (4)
ROVE – Other than the fact that Curiosity in the name of a Martian rover, this clue does not really work. The mission would be “to rove”.
33 Source of dopamine, if article replaces measure of substance (4,4)
OPEN MIND – An anagram (unindicated) of DOPAMINE with an N (number – measure of substance) being replaced by an A (article). There is no anagram indicator and I cannot see that there is anything by way of a definition in this clue.
34 Tendency to abstain (4)
WONT – Double definition, the second being a contraction 3’1.
38 The tiger who came to define the social contract (6)
HOBBES – The name of the philosopher and Calvin’s tiger friend.
40 Aircraft navigator with a broken compass? (4)
NOSE – Split 2,2 this would indicate (fancifully) a broken compass. I don’t think that the definition is particularly helpful or accurate here.
41 Collect church by mechanical device (5)
WINCH – A three letter word meaning to collect or gain something followed by the abbreviation for church.
42 Pine from -1 A.D. (5)
YEARN – Apparently, 0 in Roman numerals is N (though Chambers gives it as 90). – 1 AD (as there was no 0 AD would give Year N.
43 Emphatically dead (4)
VERY – Double definition.