⁂ George Ho

Loplop Cryptic #015 [15×]

A 15× themeless for my 15th puzzle!

Before diving in, I wanted to call out that Last Round, my previous puzzle (which featured in Taylor Johnson’s lemonade disco), is one of the most streamed puzzles I’ve made, which was immensely gratifying to see! If you want to check one out, it’s been solved by a real who’s-who of cryptic streamers:

As always, a huge thank you to Kit Sovereign and Michael Colella for the test solves — and without further ado, I hope you enjoy!

Clue Workshop

Today I’ll discuss a clue from In One Basket, my variety collaboration with The Rackenfracker. If you haven’t solved that yet, please do give it a go — I think it’s the puzzle that I’m proudest of so far!

In the ’90s, Bush hit Gore initially and sincerely — lacking leadership, in need of reform (9)

Click here for solution and discussion
  • Answer: GLYCERINE
  • Definition: In the ’90s, Bush hit
  • Wordplay: G[ore] + ([s]INCERELY)*

One thing which I didn’t like about this clue was that the definition required you to know the 1994 song by Bush.

While I don’t mind requiring solvers to know facts about the world, I try to avoid pop culture and celebrity names: not because they don’t deserve to be in crosswords, but because they’re just not what I’m good at solving! I mostly live under a rock, and clues that ask me to know names of TV shows are about as helpful to me as having no clue at all.

In this case though, there was something else to consider: the entry has both variant spellings (GLYCERINE in British English; GLYCERIN in American English) and a variant name (GLYCEROL). Since we were making an American variety cryptic, we didn’t feel it was fair to clue the British spelling of a word without some indication. Defining the entry as a “Bush hit” circumvented this problem: the song is unambiguously called Glycerine.

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