i Cryptic Crossword 3239 Monk

June 25, 2021

One of the incidental joys of solving crosswords is the little excursions one makes into regions of knowledge and experience that one might otherwise never have ventured into. Today I read about an Icelandic indie-folk band, and had a fun couple of minutes watching a video of Sponge Bob Square Pants (it was only a couple of minutes, honest). Both as a consequence of googling SEA BEAR.

This was a medium-to-hard puzzle, I would say; one which took me a little over my typical time, and which required a bit of dictionary- and Internet-checking. But all the parsing yielded in the end, leaving me with no unanswered questions. My parsing problems included the “tall” component of ENVIRONMENTALLY, and most of UP THE GARDEN PATH. Both entries seemed clear once a few crossers were in, but did take that bit of unravelling. Other bits of googling were necessitated by THOREAU and DROP FORGE; and likewise with these clues, the crossing letters were sufficiently helpful for me to know what I should be checking. Obscurities? I know its an old film, but surely everyone’s heard of The Odd Couple with Walter MATTHAU and Jack Lemmon.

One clue I thought a tad unfair. Both of the word-play components of ETHICAL were in Latin. Both in common use, I think, but with no indication in the clue, I did think it a little questionable.

There is a ghost-theme; WHITE and HOUSE in the top-left and bottom-right corners, plus TRUMP in the bottom left could not possibly be fortuitous. Check on Fifteensquared, below, for some suggestions on how other clues might fit in.

All in all, an enjoyable and rewarding solve. Lots of great clues. My runner-up today is TAKE THE SHINE OFF, and my Clue of the Day is 1ac: “You and I eating buffet pasty (5)”.

Here’s the link to Fifteensquared for all the answers and explanations:


11 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3239 Monk”

  1. Cornick said

    Loved that. I know Monk has the reputation of being one of the more difficult setters, but this one fairly flew in for some reason. Perhaps it’s a wavelength thing or maybe it’s the rigorous cryptic grammar and lack of‘verbiage’. Also I probably got lucky with the vocabulary today – Thoreau is a favourite, have taught very many children about the Sea bear/ tardigrade etc.
    Suspect Hoskins has it right re the themed entries. Thank God he’s gone!

  2. Grodnik said

    Good challenge today solved in a little under par. In view of the original date of publication, 21/Jan/2017, the message has to be TRUMP TAKES WHITE HOUSE. Cornick has it right. Four-and-a-bit years later the stable genius has still not convinced himself that he is not the smartest person on Earth and should be in charge of everything. Thank goodness there are some adults working there now. Check out Jen Psaki, what a star.

  3. Denzo said

    I tend to find Monk decidedly on the difficult side, so was pleased to have almost completed this in below average time, the exception being the SE corner by which time I was almost dropping off with the effect of pain-killers. Enjoyable and fairly clued, though I agree with Saboteur that ET-HIC-AL should have had a “Latin” warning, just as I believed yesterday’s BABE needed an “American” warning.

    I wish I hadn’t spotted the theme, and that I could share the optimism of the last two contributors that its subject is now purely history. I needed 225 to get the TALL bit of 11a. My favourite clue (of so many excellent ones) was SALLY ARMY.

  4. Willow said

    I got through this and found it satisfying in the end, but it took a bit of thought. Which is no bad thing. Let us indeed hope that Donald has gone for good, politically speaking …

  5. batarde said

    Lovely jubbly – I’ve missed the Monkster. The double take in the top right corner was an eyebrow-raiser, but that’s an utterly insignificant nanoquibble. Done and dusted in what I imagine is my normal sort of time with no looking up except for checking the sea bear after the event. Not to be confused with the creatures failing to observe social distancing at the top of the page. Good taste dictates that I should keep my thoughts on the theme to myself. A satisfying way to finish the week, all told.

  6. jonofwales said

    Surprisingly for Monk this was another one that was over in a flash. I’d put this down to the unexpectedly strong coffee I tried out lunchtime (a Father’s Day present it transpires was supposed to be shared between two), but it appears that I wasn’t alone.

    The only one I struggled with the parsing of was 5d, but with a few checking letters in place the answer was unlikely to be anything else with EVER stuck in the middle.

    Lots of ticks beside the clues, lots of enjoyment to be found, favourite here was 1ac.

  7. Veronica said

    I enjoyed this one.

    Failed miserably to finish, though. 25 across, plus 6 and 18 down all defeated me. Ah well.

    Lovely surfaces – with 3 down being my favourite because it was such a funny thought, and really rather neat. But my CoD was ETHICAL – I liked it being in Latin for the ah moment when I finally parsed it. Really enjoyed several others, including saboteur’s CoD, which was nicely misleading.

  8. dtw42 said

    Technically a DNF for me today, since I didn’t get 18dn. Everything else went in fine though, although my marginal comments were mostly of the “humph” variety.

    I was fine with not needing to flag the Latinity of ET(HIC)AL, *but* I would argue that “et al.” means “and otherS”, not “other”, so I don’t think the construction works.

  9. Brock said

    Busy yesterday so am solving a day behind at the moment, leaving today’s puzzle for tomorrow. Medium difficulty I thought, and generally fair, although with a number of quibbles I’ll come to in a moment. Favourite clue was probably the ingenious anagram at 3d. Nice to be reminded of one of my favourite actors at 16d. Wasn’t aware that SALLY could mean “joke” and almost put SILLY ARMY for 8d until I thought better of it!

    1a – is “warfare” a verb in current use? The OED Online has no citations for “warfaring” after 1876.
    18d – Wikipedia hasn’t heard of a “sea bear” except as a fictional creature in Spongebob Squarepants. Is there a real one?
    22a – as others have pointed out, ET AL and HIC are both Latin, but at least ET AL is used in English to mean “and others”. When is HIC used in English to mean “this”?
    17a – this might seem very minor, but “stored in” appears to make no contribution to the clue except as a link between definition and wordplay. It threw me off the scent slightly.

    None of the above stopped me from solving the puzzle, but they did leave me rather more uncertain than usual.

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