The Confusions (from the 13/14th of November)

Any early confusions you need help with?

Update: Here’s the troubles:

22 across: Western writer mad to capture Manx bird (4, 4)
I’m guessing it’s a Western or a Western writer. Chances are I’ve never heard of either.

11 across: – cryptic clue? (9)
So I’ve got the answer and kind of an explanation that I’m not entirely happy with.

15 down: Ford mentioned central influence? (8)
I reckon the direct clue is bullshit. The indirect I can’t comment on.

21, 1-down: Hollywood creep to defect, seizing Israeli plane abroad to central China (4, 6)
I liked who the answer referred to; just missing an explanation.

12 down: Timeless African people climbing of mountains intact? (10)
I’m completely lost.

22 thoughts on “The Confusions (from the 13/14th of November)

  1. 17 across is quite an intricate one.

    It goes like this: as paper during short break = as rag during short pause = as rag during paus = asparagus = green.

  2. 21, 1D was a goodie; defect = BUG seizing Israeli plane = EL AL gives BELALUG then abroad = OS and central chIna gives BELA LUGOSI the old Hollywood creep.

  3. re 12D; Timeless African people = BANTU timeless (T) and climbing gives UNAB of mountains = RIDGED and so UNABRIDGED = intact.

  4. 22 across: Western writer mad to capture Manx bird

    “mad” = ZANY

    “Manx bird” = a bird with its tail off = EGRET – T = EGRE

    ZANE GREY, a western writer

    11 across: – cryptic clue?

    “-” = MINUS
    “cryptic clue” = CULE

    MINUSCULE, represented by the little letters. (I liked this clue.)

    12 down: Timeless African people climbing of mountains intact? (10)

    “Timeless African people climbing” = BANTU – T upside-down = UNAB

    “mountains” = RIDGES

    UNABRIDGES, intact

    But! Before you pull the trigger on my explanation. I’m not sure where the S comes from; or whether it should even be an S, or a D

  5. 15D was another goodie;FORD = causeway “mentioned” central gives CORE and “mentioned” influence gives SWAY ergo CAUSEWAY.

  6. Goddamn English spelling — I had MINUSCULE down as MINISCULE, which then made UNABRIDGED rather difficult to solve with an I out front.

    MINISCULE seems more apt both semantically and phonetically. Damn!

    And thanks AL and TT for the info.

  7. And while the dictionary tells me the direct definition is correct — I didn’t know FORD could be a noun as well as a verb — CORE as a homophone of CAU seems a bit of a stretch.

    Then again, CAU in CAUSTIC sounds pretty much like CORE. Perhaps the drastic difference in spelling is causing me to question it more than I otherwise would.

  8. AS, the homophone is the entire phrase “coresway”, in particular “cores” sounds like “cause”. I think it’s fine. (Excellent clue, actually.)

  9. Thanks for 17A, AS. As you say, intricate!
    I reckon DA is stretching the friendship with ‘ford’ = ’causeway’, I’ve always understood a ford as being a crossing where you get your feet wet, and on a causeway you don’t! And as one who likes his bruschetta and his Italian bread, 5D doesn’t work for me. But I think they are nice clues if you can overlook the major faults.

  10. Bit of a mixed bag, this week. My favourites were 11A, 15&16A, 8D&13A, 14D.

    A few clues didn’t really work for me. The homophone “causeway” = “core sway” I didn’t like for two reasons. The first one is my usual gripe about “cau” versus “core” (same as “law” versus “lore” a few months ago; I’m usually the only one to object to this but it was nice to see AS flirting with the same objection above, albeit only temporarily). And the second reason is that the “s” in “causeway” is pronounced as a “z” (am I alone in this too?), unlike the “s” in “core sway”.

    I thought the surface reading of both 23A and 12D was really clunky. Also I don’t really get 23A UNROLL (explanation please, anybody!); whilst in 12D the word “of”, required for the wordplay (“of mountains” = “ridged”), ruined the surface reading of an otherwise excellent clue.

    Two more queries/gripes: 18D UGLILY – I guess this was probably the only word that would fit into the grid (we’ve had a few of these recently). All I can say is yuk!
    And 19D: I don’t really get the need for the reference to 8A in the clue. It seems to work fine without it. Any suggestions?

  11. I thought 11A should have been OBFUSCATE, which seemed to be a neat answer to me, but which meant not much else fitted for a while there. A dash can represent hiding or concealing something, and the point of a cryptic clue could be described as to Obfuscate…. ah well. Minuscule makes more sense of the font size.
    I also dislike the requirement to have such a broad general knowledge of historic people’s names, etc. – shouldn’t that be reserved for the General Knowledge crossword next door?

  12. Nice point on the SWAY, RB. The S made me overlook the difference in pronunciation, which is definitely there. Not sure if I’d go so far as to say bullshit, but I reckon it’s close.

    You’re right about the clunky surface reading, although I think the crossword as a whole had some clever clues.

    Regarding UNROLL, it’s pair of undies = un (two letters from UNDIES) and wrap = roll (I’ve noticed wrap is the new word for a roll in plenty of places these days).

    UGLILY is certainly ugly, but the 8A reference was quite clever: read it as CLEAR WAY TO DESCRIBE SKY.

    And CL, I quite like the general knowledge that’s required as long as it’s not ridiculous. One thing I really love is when I haven’t heard of the answer before yet I still manage to get it out because of the wordplay.

    The Western writer referenced in 22 across I’d consider almost ridiculous, but the indirect part of the clue wasn’t too difficult, so it passes in my book.

  13. Ah yes, AS, I agree: some clues were quite brilliant!

    But getting back to the ordinary again:
    23A UNROLL – The bit I still can’t accept is “pair of undies” = UN. How are we supposed to infer that it’s the FIRST two letters? Why not the last two? The middle two? Am I missing something? Or is it a bullshit clue?
    19A I figured it was “clear way to describe sky”, but I didn’t really like the “clear”. To me, “azure” is a way of describing clear sky, but not a particularly clear way of describing sky!

  14. In defence of Western writers and DA, Zane Grey is I think, the only well-known Western writer. There’s a list in The Readers Catalog of Western writers and of the 50-odd names, the only other one I recognised was Elmore Leonard!

  15. Yep, CLEAR WAY is a bit of stretch, but PAIR OF UNDIES is fine to me. That we don’t know which two letters are being referred to is, again, fine by me — we don’t want to these crosswords to be too easy.

    And JG, if I haven’t heard of it, the answer MUST BE RIDICULOUS!

    Zane sure is a great name, though.

  16. AS, I think the WRAP = ROLL clue meant it as a verb, rather than the edible nouns. In your formative years you would “roll” or “wrap” up a serve of fish and chips, whereas I doubt your mother has ever fried a “chico wrap”!

    Speaking of which, shall we do DAndenong this weekend?

  17. AS, whenever the setter wishes to select ONE letter of a word, it is customary to indicate which one (first, last, second etc eg 2D “fifth of Prozac” = “a” ). If this indication were missing, and we were expected to guess which letter the setter had in mind, there would be a (justifiable) outcry. And I suspect you might be leading it! So when the setter wishes to select a pair of adjacent letters, why is it OK to omit to indicate which pair? Why is there no outrage (except mine)? Surely there is an inconsistency here!

  18. While I agree with you when it’s one letter being referred to, I’m not so sure that’s the case for more than one. Case in point: often you’ll get a clue mentioning a half, a third or a centre section of a word and you don’t know which half, third or how much of the central section of said word is being referred to.

    Would you think twice about TRAM CENTRAL TO SUN GOD (2)?

    How about TRAM PAIR TO SUN GOD (2)?

    In my opinion, they’re both fine (although I do concede that my general mood plays a strong role in how much I like to complain).

  19. Good point. I think my initial reactions are:

    tram central = ra. No problem. Couldn’t be anything else. But the longer the word, the more possiblities there are. I suppose you would sometimes have a good idea how many letters you were looking for. So, even with a long word, this could be acceptable.

    tram pair = tr, ra, or am. Once again, it depends how long the word is. And how complex the rest of the clue is. With “undies”, the pair could have been un, nd, di, ie, or es.

    However, I can see trouble looming! If you meekly accept “pair of undies” = “un”, the next step is that the two letters are not contiguous (eg “ud”). Then the letters are reversed (eg “du”). Then the word becomes not a six-letter word like “undies”, but a much longer one (eg pair of binoculars). So a line has to be drawn somewhere. And I’m staking a claim to have it drawn earlier rather than later!

  20. You’re quite right — in devious hands, it could become quite fiendish.

    Makes me wish I saw the Taboo crossword spoken about earlier — it would have been a sensation.

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