This morning I was woken at 3.44 by our cat beating up a full-sized fox … quite possibly everyone else in the neighbourhood had a disturbed night too, as it was a noisy business.  Recent neurological studies on sleep deprivation make for alarming reading, so seeing Scorpion’s name by the crossword gave me pause.  I may have been seen to shudder slightly, even.  No need to worry as it turned out though, because by this setter’s standards the puzzle was a gentle one with a very familiar theme; innocent of obscurities but with plenty of the elan we’ve come to expect.  Just right, in fact.

This one dates back to January 2013 and attracted surprisingly few comments over at Fifteensquared, but they’re duly appreciative and nobody found anything quibbleworthy.  I have a welter of ticked clues to choose from, but must agree with the consensus over there that 27ac was a gem.  Clue of the day, therefore:

“Stern action from nurse perhaps, redirecting blokes in casualty (5)”

There was a comment on one of the linked blog entries last week to the effect that Punk’s unique selling points are ribaldry and lavatorial humour, which struck me as peevish and ungenerous. There’s very little of that sort of thing in this puzzle, but plenty of devious definitions and clever constructions to amuse receptive solvers, and a theme as is the custom on a Tuesday, based on various 19 downs.

Nothing too difficult this time, although a bit of general knowledge will come in handy for those thematic entries and the cricketers. Maybe not quite so general in the latter case. 27ac struck me as somewhat weak, and is anyone else getting fed up with 9ac coming up so regularly? Otherwise, no complaints: for those please see the February 2013 Fifteensquared blog. I particularly liked 3, 5 and 20d, but my clue of the day is the elegantly turned 2d:

“Brave ploy, extremely sinister (6)”

It being Tuesday, there’s bound to be something devilishly clever going on. The pangram alert klaxon went off when 7d went in, but that’s not it. No hints from me, but I’d urge solvers to have a good old hunt around in the completed grid before resorting to Fifteensquared – there’s something hiding in there and a nice little theme too.

None of that got in the way of a polished and fairly straightforward puzzle which was a pleasure to solve. There are some commendable clues today – 6, 8, 10 and 11 for instance – my favourite being 29ac:

“Return of short Romany girls – good lookers? (10)”

We’re back to wet and windy January 2013 this time.

It seems to me that there’s a particular style of crossword which Eimi likes to serve up on a Tuesday: it’s rarely the hardest of the week but often the most entertaining. Small wonder therefore that Radian frequently takes the slot, witty puzzles with jiggery-pokery being something of a speciality. Today’s was littered with thematic material, a few red herrings and some amusing surfaces, and all told represented about as much fun as one can have sitting down with a newspaper and a ballpoint pen. I’d venture to suggest that this one should be right up Sprouthater’s street.

I have plenty of ticks today and no complaints. When the puzzle first appeared back in February 2013 there was a bit of criticism for 24ac over at Fifteensquared, several curmudgeons taking the view that “man” should have a capital letter. Not if you’re conversant with John Donne, is what I think, and at any rate it’s hardly a “criminal offence”. Ho hum. Do pay them a visit though – comment 11 is snortworthy.

With so many contenders for COD I shall be perverse and pick the easiest clue in crossword … if you spot it:

22ac: “Media criticism is too much for 1 across, perhaps (9)”

Punk is amongst my favourite setters because he clearly sets out to entertain and amuse as much as to bamboozle and baffle. There’ll always be a few chuckles in there, and so it proved today. However, you just can’t please some people, and it seems that back in December 2012 a number of the Fifteensquared regulars had fallen out of bed on the grumpy side.

So yes, this puzzle is in the libertarian vein, and Punk does indeed take quite a few liberties. None of which seemed obscure to me, although the conventionally constructed 8ac was a bit rich – it’s easier if you just ignore the definition for all the help it gives. Anyway, leaving that one quibble aside I thoroughly enjoyed myself, in particular the clues which prompted all the moaning on the other side. “fff pb” is just fine by me, thank you very much. My clue of the day is worthy of the Beano:

20d: “Thumb thing that th a thign? (7)”

Something more conventional than yesterday’s Rorschach test, but thoroughly satisfying as we have come to expect on a Wednesday. There are just two entries at Fifteensquared for the solution to 5d, both in crosswords by Dac, and it’s certainly not a familiar word to me. Perfectly deducible however from the immaculate clue, which is as it should be. Otherwise nothing too controversial, except maybe the reversal indicator in 21d.

The praise for this puzzle was tempered by some quibbling over on The Other Side back in January 2013, but I have no reservations. Two which came in for some discussion were 24 and 26ac: both strong COD candidates for me. The latter takes it:

“Noddy Holder performing in Slade, also Jagger? Not half (4,6)”

Is than a nod to the late Alan Freeman, do we suppose?

Back in January 2013 this was Donk’s third appearance in the Indy, and it’s also his third in the i. Thus far he’d failed to make a deep impression on me, but that has changed now. My opinion of this puzzle evolved during the solving process: at the kick off my spirits sank as the thematic football clues stacked up; by half time I wondered if he’d misplaced his copy of the rule book, and in the dying minutes of extra time as that pesky 21d finally resolved itself I decided that this was a spectacularly good crossword.

With a couple of trivial exceptions, no special knowledge of the game was required – and thank goodness for that say I. The theme is in the clues rather than their solutions, which makes a change, and there is also a rather helpful Nina. The style is distinctly non-Ximenean, and a good deal of lateral thinking was required. The only obscurity, luckily familiar to me for some reason, is the spelling of 18d which some may consider a low blow. Of the 32 clues 17 have ticks next to them, which is the highest score in a long time and makes picking out one for COD a vexed business: I’m tempted to say choose your own, frankly. However, 30ac has it:

“Fine with game requiring initial suggestion (5)”

Lots of cheering from the stands at Fifteensquared this time, along with the usual post-match analysis. Bravo, Donk.

Nothing especially taxing today, but it’s a nice puzzle from Crosophile with an unobtrusive theme. Quite a mixture of clues ranging from sitting ducks to some fairly knotty ones, and the standard of the surface readings is conspicuously good. Thoroughly enjoyable, all told.

True to form the theme slipped past me like a burglar in a dark cave: on the off chance that anyone else was similarly blindsided all was revealed in the Fifteensquared blog post back in December 2012. A fair few ticks today, with the clue of the day going to 12ac:

“Diagnosis when a man is confused about experience most lately (7)”

“Here it comes”, I thought, “this is what you get for wishing out loud for something tougher last Friday” – Mordred being one of my bêtes noires. The grid looked daunting too. As it turned out, this was a straightforward puzzle for the most part, with a couple of intransigent stragglers to tidy up at the end. I hardly need say that the theme sailed straight past me, but once you know it’s there, it’s rather impressive. There’s a heavy hint in 20d which with hindsight should have sounded the alarm. For an exhaustive explantion, please see the original Fifteensquared blog entry from November 2012.

There are some good clues of course, but nothing really leaps out. 1, 11 and 23 are all worthy of a nod, but 27ac raised a chuckle and is therefore my COD:

“Before Lorraine Pascale eventually cooked (7,2)”

The Tuesday theme is difficult to miss this time, even for me, so no prizes for spotting the various things lurking in the undergrowth. Radian invariably gives good value: I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle and hope everybody else was similarly entertained.

There’s a quibble about 15d, which was bound to get a good airing at Fifteensquared back in November 2012. Without doubt this clue is a no ball, but I wonder if it caused anyone significant problems? The same goes for the discussion of Ulster in relation to 7d, which is fine by me. Apart from those two there was nothing but well-deserved praise for a crossword peppered with excellent clues. This makes singling just one out for CoD more than usually difficult, so this is a rather random pick from the many which received ticks:

1d: “Stock control girl acted strangely with tin-opener (6,4)”