Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Bad crossword clue

This is going turn you all off, but I've got to get it off my chest.

Guardian cryptic, Tuesday, 10 down: 'Irregular notes, given European agreement, sound in the House of Lords?' (4)
Obviously, the answer is JAZZ. Get it?

Well, me neither. I stared at it for twenty minutes on Wednesday morning. So let me deconstruct it, explaining as I go why it's so bad:

The definition part is 'Irregular notes', which is meant to mean 'jazz'. That is inaccurate, presumptuous, and insulting to the twentieth century's second-greatest new art form.
'European agreement' translates, supposedly, to 'JA'. Does 'European' equate to 'German' in this compiler's mind?
'sound in the House of Lords' is apparently 'ZZ', i.e. they're all asleep. Tell that to the members of the last bastion of our democratic freedom!
Worst of all, this crap clue was what I call a 'clue to clues'. Unless you solve this one, forget the rest of the puzzle. Half a dozen others were cross-references ('man of 10') to jazz, (Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Charlie Parker etc.) but completely unsolvable without the key link/definition. If the compiler chooses this irritating formulation, he really should make the entry clue at least penetrable. I'd suggest something like 'Hot or cool?' (4)

If you've got this far, I did warn you - you're gonna get rants.

The good news is that the Christmas tree is up and shining.

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