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Goodness me, this one gave me some problems and took me over an hour for the third consecutive day this week. Right at the outset I fell literally into a bear-trap (probably of my own making rather than one intended by the setter) and never really recovered because it put me on the wrong course for several other clues. Even when I sorted out the mess my confidence was shot to pieces. But for all that, once again this week we have a very fine puzzle. For anyone noticing that I am posting somewhat later than in recent weeks, no, I have not been struggling on this since midnight; I went to bed at a sensible hour and then got up very early.
1PARADIDDLE - A RAP (a popular music - rev) + DIDDLE (do). It's a sequence of strokes in drumming.
7BEAR - Double definition. 'Hack' = 'bear' as in to tolerate, manage or cope with something. Putting 'jade' (an alternative double definition) here as my first answer in the grid gave me endless problems q.v. 7dn. A veritable bear-trap!
9BROKEN IN - ROoK (bird half-heartedly) inside BENIN.
10COWARD - RAW (not cooked - rev) inside COD.
11SHOWER - Double definition. The one meaning 'worthless group' reminds me with joy of the wonderful Terry-Thomas as the Major in 'Private's Progress' (1956): "You're an absolute SHAAAR!".
13IDEALIST - Anagram of 'sailed' inside 'it'.
14FRONT OF HOUSE - In a theatre this is everything on the audience side of the curtain as opposed to 'backstage'.
17CRACKBRAINED - CRACK (go) + BRAIN (head) + ED (man on newspaper). 'Out to lunch' is slang for 'unbalanced' or 'stupid'.
20INVEIGLE - Anagram of 'living' and EasE.
21ARGOSY - lARGO (heading off slowly - in music) + SlowlY.
22MANTUA - MA (graduate - Master of Arts) + NT (books - New Testament) + U + A. It's a 17th century gown named from the city in Lombardy.
23NOTIONAL - 'National' (citizen) with one of its As (American capital) replaced by 0 (love - tennis).
25Double definition deliberately omitted.
26ENTICEMENT - twENTIes (two couples in mid twenties) + CEMENT (bonding).
2AYRSHIRE - IRe (endless anger) inside anagram of 'her say'. Last blog I had Angus cattle as the first Down answer; today it's a different breed.
3AUK - A+UK. Stumped me for ages! Finland, Norway, Sweden? What other countries are there in NW Europe?
5DONNISH - NNI (pub - rev) inside DOSH (money). Wasted ages trying to think if 'mash' might be slang for money.
6EXCHEQUER - Sounds like 'ex-checker'.
7BEWILDERING - WILDER (rather extravagant) inside BEING (creature). So having convinced myself that 7ac was 'jade' I had J?W?????ING here and came up with 'jawdropping' for 'stunning' which seemed perfectly reasonable, give or take a hyphen, until I tried to untangle the wordplay. Many a moment was lost here.
8I'm deliberately omitting this Down clue.
12WINDCHEATER - WIND (turn) + C (cold) + HEATER (radiator?).
15ORANGEADE - Anagram of 'an edge or a'.
16MESSIAEN - MESS (jam) + I hAvE + N (new). Olivier of that name, 1908-1992, was a French composer, organist and ornithologist. I'm glad the setter didn’t require us to know his third claim to fame.
19INMATE - IN (ruling,  'in power') + MATE (China plate - CRS).
21ARTIC - ARTICulate (say clearly stopped half way).
24OHM - H (Henry - unit of inductance) inside OM (high honour - Order of Merit).


Mar. 9th, 2012 11:43 am (UTC)
Re: Muggles-Gigli controversy
Isn't the question at issue rather how much a thing is worth knowing, than how many people know it? Quite a lot of what the Times takes as acceptable GK for its clues is not exactly known far and wide. But it's knowledge worth preserving.

Edited at 2012-03-09 11:44 am (UTC)
Mar. 9th, 2012 11:53 am (UTC)
Re: Muggles-Gigli controversy
It's a bit of both I think. It's worth preserving the memory of Gigli but equally the way new words enter public consciousness and hence the language from popular culture is jolly interesting.
Mar. 9th, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Muggles-Gigli controversy
Yes, but if if goes along the 'how many know it' route, it is easier to classify, no? Who could be the judge of 'how much a thing is worth'? I'm all for using both, then maybe we all get to learn something!
Mar. 9th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Muggles-Gigli controversy
I absolutely agree we use both. As to who's the judge of worth, I think as a matter of fact the Times crossword does play a very minor role indeed in that vexed question. Both in the new words and expressions it as it were gives the thumbs-up to, and in the store of general knowledge it draws on, it plays some kind of arbiter's role. The former judgement tends to be quantitative, the latter both quantitative and qualitative and so in a way to do with worth. It's not just a crossword...
Mar. 9th, 2012 01:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Muggles-Gigli controversy
Rather fittingly I was done in by an opera term on the concise, so a double failure for me today. Sigh.
Mar. 9th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Muggles-Gigli controversy
As one who put smuggler from checkers alone, and had to look up disbelievingly to see if there was a word "muggle" I feel I ought to contribute to this thread. I actually used google first up so it was pretty clear from the outset, but I wonder if muggle makes any of the reference books we are supposed to use - Chambers et al.

My slant here is that the question of relevance is perhaps not the key point, but there should be consideration as to whether there is too much of a taste/choice/split element. The general in general knowledge to me implies that it covers a wide cross section of the public, not necessarily a great number, nor a high quality thereof. So if only the learned knew of a fact or person, but it was the learned of many places and who were not easily linked with one connection alone, then this defines GK.

With regard to Harry Potter, it is very much a taste or choice to read this, and so may be unfair to those who havent. One reason I think the "dead" rule is a good one is that over a certain time things become historical fact and those that survive can be deemed to be GK. Time will tell whether Harry Potter does that. Clearly the Beatles (although not dead per se) have done something like that, whereas perhaps Oasis have not.

One other parallel I suggested before was that along these lines, perhaps anything overly christian may be deemed unfair since it is not reasonable to suggest that a muslim, atheist or anyone else of a non christian leaning should be familiar with the minutiae of the religion. That said, I wholly appreciate that much of the tradition has been around long enough to creep into the common psyche, but the principle I believe is still valid.

...enough now, places to go, people to see!
Mar. 9th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Muggles-Gigli controversy
I think it would be a shame to stick to this principle, because if we're waiting to see if words survive we can't use interesting new ones.
And of course a similar principle applies at the other end: as memory fades general knowledge becomes specialist. There is such a thing as too old, as well as too new.
More generally I welcome words I don't know for whatever reason. Getting them from wordplay is all part of the fun.
Mar. 9th, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Muggles-Gigli controversy
Just to confirm as posted yesterday that MUGGLE is in my newest Oxford dictionary.