Thursday, January 31, 2013

10 10 10 (Puzzle No. 3,270)

It's not a themed puzzle, but 3,270 is built around an interesting three-word combination spread across 1a, 13a, and 23a.  I won't say anything more about it so as not to give anything away.  Good luck!

Link to puzzle:

Hozom's comment: In Gratitude, in which we meet Hot and Trazom's test solvers, who include Zebraboy and Alice, radio quiz writers John Chaneski and Greg Pliska, and a bunch of other NPL members (but they're identified by their non-puzzling names).  Be sure to click the "Show more" button, so you can see some of the clues Hozom stole from the test solvers (good artists borrow, great artists steal...).

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): easy once you get 1, 13, 23.

Solution and annotation will be posted Monday.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A tester of a puzzle? (Solution No. 3,269)

The names of thirteen current US senators are strewn throughout the chamber.  The names of the Republican senators are more crossword-friendly than the Democrats, which might be to the chagrin of The Nation readers.  Eight of the thirteen are Republicans (colored red in the solution), three are Democrats (blue), and the two nominal independents who function as virtual Democrats.

The short names result in the grid having no long lights, so there were more clues than usual (see Hozom's September 21 comment: Counting Words).  The grid is spiced up (and an additional connection added) by the pair of three-letter words in the center.  

By my count, there are six more senators that could reasonably go into a crossword: Boxer, Carper, Coons, Graham, Kirk, and Tester.  There are more if you stretch a little and allow other proper nouns as definitions.  

Difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle):  Mostly easy, especially if you follow politics.

Political content: see theme.  

Musical content: 6d (part of wordplay).

Solution and explanation below the fold.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Daily Office (Sunday Brunch: January 27, 2013)

The daily office is a discipline of prayer and song that is part of many Christian traditions.  Largely associated with the monastic life, but also followed by many priests, the daily office is a prescribed routine of services, each contributing structure to the day with assigned readings, prayers, and antiphons.  The most common parts of the daily office are called matins, lauds, vespers, and compline.  There are also minor hours to the day in some disciplines like terce, sext, and none

Vespers, the service for the end of the day (distinguished from compline, which is evening prayer), is the part most familiar to laypeople, particularly if you’ve been to a jazz vespers, a tradition first established by and for the musicians who were sleeping Sunday morning after playing late Saturday night. It's a more personal form of worship.
Jazz vespers in Ambler, with our friend Justin Sekelewski on bass.  

Justin was one of Sabers' predecessors in the various school orchestras in Glenside. 

Other faiths also have their equivalent to the daily office: the Muslim call to prayer five times daily, the Jewish sacrifice of praise, et cetera.   The kind of routine is something universal: I suspect Buddhist monks have their daily office too.

Almost three years ago, I saw a puzzle called samurai sudoku, published in the Washington Post.  I tried one, got through it, and did a few more while on vacation that summer.  Maybe a year later, with solving regular sudokus no longer feeling like a mental break because they were too short, I got into the habit, a daily office so to speak, of working on a samurai sudoku at the end of the day.  It was a good way to let my brain unwind, and it may have helped me sleep better. 

Well to make sure I wasn’t solving the same puzzle twice, I started printing out each day’s puzzle, and soon made a resolution to solve every one of them, though not necessarily the day they were published.  The puzzles went on a clipboard, and when I finished one, I started the next, sometimes putting one aside to solve against the clock. 

Working the puzzles daily sure improved my sudoku skills, and I started recognizing patterns that would hint at the best strategy for breaking through and “reducing” (a term I borrowed from the matrix algebra I learned in quatum mechanics and since have forgotten) the puzzle into five individual grids with all the overlapping squares filled in. 

This weekend, I closed out the last 2012 samurai sudoku (which actually happens to be the December 23 puzzle), and with it will close out the self-imposed obligation to do every day’s puzzle.  I ended up only doing nine against the clock, with the best being 13:34 on June 6: just 8 ticks off my all-time best.

By October, the samurai sudokus were enough of a routine that I started looking for ways to make them an extra challenge, such as working them without making any notes in the squares.  So that told me it was time for a new daily (or somewhat daily) office, which I’ve already started and will invite you to join me on next week.

Now on to this weekend’s brunch menu:

Fannee Doolee does not like Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, and she didn’t like their Wall Street Journal variety cryptic named “Surprise.”  I’m sorry to say she doesn’t like wordplay or anagrams or containers or charades or puns or double definitions either.  But at least she does like difficult and challenging crosswords.  She is not particularly enamored of Richard Maltby or Kevin Wald: she’s more into Patrick Berry.  She’s certainly opinionated about the constructors at the Nation: she does not care for Joshua Kosman, but she loves Henri Picciotto.  To each her own, and maybe Hex can try and win her heart with a special puzzle next month. 
[update: the solution to that puzzle has been added to the blog]

Hex also have their regular weekly block cryptic at the National Post.  There's a pretty obvious dinosaur theme.  Falcon has the solution (with pictures) and explanations for you. 

The New York Times variety puzzle this weekend (behind the paywall) is an acrostic. Hex comment on it at Wordplay.

Wall Street Journal solution (January 26, 2013)

Guest post by Fannee Doolee
(who apologies to Zoom, Z double-oh M, Box three five oh, Boston Mass, ooooh two onnne three fourrrr)

Look below the fold for the solution to the Wall Street Journal crossword "Surprise" by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, 1/26/2013.

Then bookmark this site and come back every Thursday for an introduction to that week's The Nation cryptic crossword by Hot and Trazom, Monday for the solution and full annotation, and weekends for Sunday Brunch: a roundup of the week's new cryptic and variety crosswords.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Tense Cryptic (Puzzle No. 3,269)

Hot and Trazom have worked an unlucky 13 theme answers into this week's grid.  If you're reasonably up on current affairs, this should make the puzzle even easier.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): easy

Hozom's comment: The Hunt Was On, in which Hot and Trazom tell us about the MIT Mystery Hunt, an event held every January, going back to 1981.  This is not like a crossword convention: it's a huge production.  Solvers work in teams (some upwards of 100 members), so they can divide and conquer the hundred or more puzzles involved in getting to the ultimate solution: a location on campus where a special coin has been hidden.

The Hunt is not just word puzzles like crosswords and cryptograms, there are logic and number puzzles, pop culture references to figure out, and MIT in-jokes and trivia.  Kevin Wald has been on the winning team a couple of times, and for his reward, got tasked with contributing puzzles to the next year's Hunt.  If you are the type who likes metas in your cryptics, and for whom (as Hot and Trazom put it) "difficulty is no object," mark the weekend of January 17-20, 2014 on your calendar.  If you've never taken part before, the organizers can match you up with a team.

Solution and explanations posted here on Monday: use the comments for hint requests

Monday, January 21, 2013

Yannick! (Solution No. 3,268)

TODM and I went to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra Saturday, with new music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting.  Anthony Tomassini of the Times raved about the performance at Carnegie Hall and the enthusiasm that the players had for their new leader.

They did a splendid job, especially with Shostakovich's Symphony #5, written after Stalin and the Soviet régime denounced his previous works and the composer feared he and his family would be sent to the gulag or worse: the piece epitomizes the tension between the artistic and political imperatives Shostakovich faced.  While Philadelphia is legendary for its string sound, I think their winds are a murderers' row: Woodhams, Khaner, Morales, and Matzukawa go from strength to strength.  Jennifer Montone and the horns were fabulous as well, and the celesta (which I presume was Kiyoko Takeuti) slowed just enough in her solo to build more emotional tension.   Important small bits for all the different instruments through this piece, and every single player connected perfectly with Yannick and his overall statement.

During the ovation, you could see concertmaster David Kim silently cheering so hard that he broke a visible sweat.  We were seated in the front row, right next to the basses' feet, and afterwards had a chat with Joe Conyers and Mary Javian, the youngest performers in that section, who were still revved up five minutes after the finish.

On to the puzzle.  As Hot and Trazom mentioned, this puzzle featured homonyms, in several different forms.

Theme entries: 16a, 21a, 5d, 14d

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): mostly easy, I went from bottom to top this time

Musical reference: 15d

solution and explanations below the fold

Right up your alley?

I should have come up with a more clever headline, but there's a blurb in Mac Rumors and in MIT Technology Review about a job opening at Apple.  They want a writer to join the team developing Siri, the virtual assistant for iOS devices that understands natural language and talks back, sometimes with wit.  The job ad seeks

“[S]omeone who combines a love for language, wordplay, and conversation with demonstrated experience in bringing creative content to life within an intense technical environment.”

I'll bet that describes more than a few cryptic crossword constructors, as well as readers of this blog...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Drop the puck! (Sunday brunch: January 20, 2013)

After a three month lockout, it's finally time to drop the puck on the NHL season.  But we officials don't really drop the puck: we snap it down, kind of a half-throw.  The training manuals talk about presenting the puck and some other niceties like that, but if you try them in anything higher than a pee-wee game, it's like sticking your hand in a blender.

If you drop the puck instead of putting it down with some force, a center can bat the puck before it hits the ice, which isn't a fair draw.  Another thing is the puck is more likely to come down crooked and bounce.  The lightweight blue pucks we use for mites are even easier to bounce, so even with the littlest players, you have to focus and use good technique to have a good face-off.

But sometimes, getting the puck down flat is only a secondary consideration.  Protecting yourself is job one.  So as soon as my puck hand goes down, it goes back up and in front of my face, to ward off any stray sticks.  There are a couple of players in the adult league at Penn who are pretty dangerous that way.  The Purple Cobras have a center who chokes way down on his stick, so I have to watch out for the butt end of it.  And one of Kate Connolly's teammates tends to slash around at the puck with no regard for the referee's shins.

So when you're watching the NHL start play this weekend, pay attention to the linesmen when they conduct a face-off: the little drama of keeping the centers from getting an unfair advantage, the differences in each official's motion, and the defensive measures they have to take since they're only armed with whistles.

And we have cryptic crosswords for your between-periods entertainment!

Harper's is out for February.  The Richard Maltby puzzle is called "Sentences."  Hot and Trazom ought to like this one.  Its theme entries are all in the form of single words that could be sliced up to form a multi-word sentence.  The grid is hexagonal, with a 19(!) letter word in the center.  The format does lead to a lot of three- and four-letter fill, which is part of why I found this one pretty easy.  Usually Harper's is the hardest of the regularly-scheduled American cryptic puzzles.

Speaking of hexagons, we have a Patrick Berry Rows Garden in the Wall Street Journal this weekend. So far, I see few comments from solvers, suggesting this is a tough one.  I got off to a roaring start, especially since a legendary hockey arena was right across the top, but I haven't had time to finish it yet.     (Update: the end didn't go as easily as the beginning, but I got through it in less than a day with no recourse to the computer.  I was definitely in the minority, as most solvers did think it was harder than Berry's earlier puzzles.)

Don't know whether Hex are hockey fans, though I'm sure there are lots of fans among their National Post readers.  If you didn't know it, the NP is a Canadian newspaper.  "Drop the puck" would be a good theme for one of their puzzles, but this week they give us a little magic.  Falcon will have the puzzle and analysis for you.

Finally, the New York Times says good-bye to George Bredehorn this weekend.  Bredehorn invented many different word puzzles, and authored the infamous "Sit and Solve" word puzzle book, but "Split Decisions" is the one that caught on.  Willz tells us that many NYT readers looked forward to those puzzles, though I can't count myself among that number.  Bredehorn died last month, and his final puzzle appears (behind the paywall) in this week's Times.  Deb Amlen will probably have a few more words in his memory over at Wordplay.

Bredehorn also deserves our thanks for mentoring other constructors, most notably Fred Piscop, who sets Puns and Anagrams for the Times, and has promised to keep creating Split Decisions.  Their relationship went back more than fifty years: Bredehorn was an elementary school teacher in East Meadow, Long Island, where Piscop was one of his students.  Well played, sir....

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Verbal puns (Puzzle No. 3,268)

This week's Word Salad is about homophone clues.  I find them pretty easy to identify and solve, since the universe of indicators is relatively small.  So naturally, Hot and Trazom give us a few more than usual in this week's puzzle.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): kind of a mix, mostly easy.  The homophones are balanced  by a couple of more obscure words, but all the clues have at least one easy part.

Hozom's comment: "I Hear You," in which Hot and Trazom share their favorite homophone clues.  I can't say I find them memorable: much of the time, it feels like you have to fudge the pronunciation a little, but they're all legit.

Need hints?  Ask in the comments.  Solution and explanations will be posted Monday.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sweet Georgia Brown (Solution No. 3,267)

I was glad to see 26a/7d: it gives me a reason to link to one of the best jazz performances I've ever listened to.  I first heard it when I had a jazz show on the campus radio station and we got the whole set of Montreux '77 recordings from Pablo Records.  Oscar Peterson must have been the fastest of all the great piano players, and Ray Brown, one of the few people who could keep up with him, was his regular bassist.  Festival producer Norman Granz brought in Europe's fastest bassist, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, for this very unusual set with no drummer.

I remember the whole piece, and some of the other tunes from this series, almost 35 years after I first heard them.  A few years ago, I looked online for it so Sabers could hear what the giants can do with a bass, and was delighted to find out that not only was an mp3 available, there was video too! Unfortunately, the audio balance of the videos is muddier than the original LPs and loses some of the basses: seek the latter out if you want the best sound.

Click "play" for the pyrotechnics: these guys utterly destroy the piece.  Oscar takes it out of the starting blocks with each of the bassists accompanying in turn, then hands it off to Brown with a nod.  Even at that breakneck pace, Brown nails the rhythm precisely.  NHØP takes over and plays even faster in his solo, Oscar showing his accompanist's sense throughout, like Basie with eight times the notes.  Oscar then vamps a little to let the audience catch its breath, and then he finds another gear.  The visuals during that chorus are great: Niels is standing there astounded, Ray's grinning, and you see the strain on Oscar's face as he takes it to the absolute limit.

The last choruses are a call and response where Oscar gives each of the bassists the same accompaniment to work from, though by this point the cutting contest is over, with the only knockouts being on the piece.  Ray looks at Niels, Niels looks at Ray, and they must be saying to each other that Oscar is still the champion.  

Hey Trazom, you have a classical answer to this?  

Oscar Peterson (p), Ray Brown (b), Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (b): "Sweet Georgia Brown," recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland, 1977.   

More videos from Montreux '77
  • Count Basie: Trio Blues (with Ray Brown and Jimmie Smith: listen to Benny Carter remarking at the end: "We can't follow that, Bill [Basie]!") 
  • Oscar Peterson Jam: Ali and Frazier (so named after Basie likened the cutting by all the players in that piece to the blows landed in legendary boxing trilogy)

On to this week's puzzle and solution, which I didn't get quite as fast.  

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle):  average. Looks hard at first, but steady work and an open mind will see you through.

Political content: 7d

Musical content: 1a, 4d (clue), 26a/7d

solution and explanations below the fold

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Starting Here, Starting Now (Sunday brunch: January 13, 2013)

Thursday’s post about Richard Maltby and Stephen Sondheim only scratched the surface of their contributions to cryptic crosswords and to musical theatre.  I kept exploring, and discovered that while Sondheim’s book of New York magazine puzzles is long out of print (this is the book with the dodecahedron on the cover), Sondheim’s first three puzzles are posted online for posterity.  I'm going to try one of them this weekend.

Elsewhere around the puzzling scene, it’s one of those two-acrostic weeks.  The Times puzzle (by Hex as usual, with their comments over at the Wordplay blog) is behind the paywall, while the Wall Street Journal’s acrostic is a particularly literary endeavor (update 1/13" I forgot to credit Mike Shenk for constructing that puzzle).  Note that there've been issues with Java security, so you may need to reload the page or re-enable Java in order for the interactive version to work.  But do so: that applet takes all the drudgery out of acrostics.  

For cryptics, this week we’ve only got The Nation from Thursday (solution posted here Monday: hints always available in comments if you need them--and don't miss this week's installment of Word Salad) and the National Post from Saturday, which this week has a mystery constructor.  Solution and commentary on that puzzle is over at Falcon’s site.  Harpers’ for February wasn’t out yet, last I checked.

I spend a good chunk of my week going back over a Kevin Wald puzzle: "I Scrambled Here" that I’d printed out a few months ago and found while cleaning up around the house.  This one has a four-stage meta to taunt you, in case working out two-part clues or clues with anagrams inside them isn’t hard enough already.  I’ve filled the grid and solved the first two metas, but there’s a final anagram I haven’t got yet, along with a final bit of wordplay. Want to try and help? If you ask in the comments, I’ll give hints on the parts I’ve gotten so far. Then you might be able to figure out where I’ve gone wrong.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why cryptic puzzles were invented (Puzzle No. 3,267)

Well, that title ought to get your attention (though it won't get hits like the words "New York Times solution" will).  Go read this week's Word Salad for Richard Maltby's answer, and much more.

Link to puzzle:

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): average.  Looks hard at first, but steady work and an open mind will see you through.

Hozom's comment: "A Talk with Richard Maltby," in which we learn that Maltby served as Stephen Sondheim's understudy, going out onto the big stage at New York magazine when Sondheim had to devote full time to the production of "Company" (which opened on Broadway in 1970).  Sondheim's puzzles were collected in a book, which is sadly out of print.

Maltby finds the English language uniquely suitable for cryptic wordplay, and vice versa.   
"No other language has the opportunities for puns and linguistic misdirection. In fact, that is probably why cryptic puzzles were invented: to make a game out of the mysteries and anomalies of our language."

It took a bit of searching, but in Maltby's honor, here's a show he introduced and participated in, in honor of Sondheim's 75th birthday, featuring my school classmate Michael Cerveris.  "Wall to Wall Sondheim" (part I, part II).  I don't see Mike appearing in any numbers that Maltby himself wrote though.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Congratulations Sabers, Congratulations USA (Solution No. 3,266)

Sabers won an individual event for the first time this weekend (he went 5-0), while the USA national hockey team won the IIHF World Junior Championship.  It was a great week for USA Hockey officials too: Harry Dumas, who is an officiating instructor for us in the Atlantic District, and his partners all worked the Russia-Sweden semi-final and the Russia-Canada bronze medal game (they weren't allowed to work the gold medal game because the USA was playing in it).  Even Matt Leaf, our national director of officiating, got a piece of the bronze: he was the video replay official.  Congratulations to all of you.

Did anyone else see a sixth piece of equipment in the solutions?  It split across the two parts of a solution, but it's pretty necessary too.  All the theme answers are highlighted in the solution below.

Themework: 1a, 10a, 16a, 28a, 29a (and an honorable mention to Sabers’ other piece of equipment in 23a!)

Political content: 13a, 29a.  There might have been an opportunity to cross-reference 22d to 8d.

Musical content: 16a (disputable), 23a, 7d

Solution and annotation below the fold.

Final standings of the first Y14 Philly Cup fencing event of 2013:  Sabers, Storm, and Elena.

Team USA in Ufa, Russia

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New York Times "Puns and Anagrams" solution 1/6/13

Welcome NYT solvers!  Come back every week for Sunday brunch and try some of the other great cryptic crosswords out there.  We have hard ones like the variety cryptics, easy ones like the weekly cryptic at the National Post, and of course Hot and Trazom's puzzles from The Nation.

This one seemed a little harder than usual, but it takes me a while to switch gears for solving Puns and Anagrams.  You can feel like a dope when the answer (or the anagram) is in plain sight, as many of them are here.  If you need a hint, or want an explanation of how a clue is supposed to be parsed, or if you have a correction (I did this from a fuzzy copy), post in the comments below.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Epiphany Vespers (Sunday brunch: January 6, 2013)

Today is Epiphany on the calendar of most Christians: commemorating the revelation of Christ to the nations, who were first represented by the Three Kings (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar: who also would make a nice set of theme puzzle entries).

For those of you of a more literary than liturgical bent, this is where Twelfth Night came from.  In Shakespeare's time, Epiphany was more of a feast of revelry than a holy day.

Epiphany is also the setting for one of the most interesting pieces of music I've ever heard: Kile Smith's Vespers (iTunes link).  Originally titled Epiphany Vespers, Kile started with seasonal psalms and chorales that wouldn't be out of place in a 16th century Lutheran worship service, and then added sections to showcase the talents of Piffaro, Philadelphia's Renaissance band, and The Crossing, a small virtuoso choir specializing in new music.  Talking with Kile after the premiere, I made note of the sixteen(!)-part harmonization in "Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn," and he said that if he'd known the choir had twenty voices, he would have written it in twenty parts!  Take a listen while you solve.  Another video about the recording is at the bottom of the post, below the fold.

"Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn," performed by the Virginia Chorale

"Epiphany" is an apt word for us solvers to use, especially when we discover the gimmick in a variety cryptic or work out a particularly challenging wordplay.  There should be several of them for you in this weekend's cryptics.

The New York Times (behind the paywall) has a Puns and Anagrams this week.  I'll post the solution here Sunday.

Wall Street Journal puzzle editor Mike Shenk takes up the pencil himself this week to offer us another of his Spell Weaving crosswords.  Clue 1 is quite fitting.  I find these puzzles pretty easy: would anyone like to try it on a grid with the numbers blanked out?  Look below the fold for a blank grid

Ucaoimhu (Kevin Wald) is overdue for a mention in this blog: he creates variety cryptics that are hard enough for the National Puzzlers' League.  His latest creation is called The Little Marathon Thing.  It's got altered clues, a clue that you need to solve the rest of the puzzle to complete, and a reward for you at the end.  Use the comments below if you want any hints.

The weekly cryptic by Hex is in the National Post.  Falcon has the puzzle and solution for you at his blog:

Below the fold: 

  • Interview with Donald Nally about Kile Smith's Vespers
  • Numberless grid for Spell Weaving crossword!
  • Comments and hint requests

Friday, January 4, 2013

The equipment bag (Puzzle No. 3,266)

Link to puzzle:  (direct link: I had problems with the usual puzzle post).

Hozom's comment: "Puzzling Resolutions" in which Hot and Trazom share their New Year's resolutions.  Let me add one more: everyone bring at least one new solver into the fold this year.

This week's puzzle from Hot and Trazom has an appropriate collection of equipment, so it's an appropriate time to dig into my equipment bag.  Besides the striped sweater, skates and helmet, we refs wear a protective girdle, shin guards, and elbow pads.   While I don't wear contact lenses any more, I've kept the little bag I used to store them in.  It's handy not just to keep the small stuff from getting lost in my equipment bag, but also to carry it out to the scorer's table in case I need it.  What's there?

  • Spare whistle (the most important item: sometimes your whistle freezes up or the finger-clamp gets bent; I've also lent that spare to rookie partners who have a cheesy-sounding whistle instead of an Acme or a Fox 40).
  • Spare skate laces, plus cut-up pieces to fix the nets.
  • Skate sharpener, in case one of my blades loses an edge.
  • "Riot pad" and pencil (we call a little notebook a "riot pad" because it's needed when a brawl breaks out and we need to record who did what when so we can remember it for our post-game report).
  • Ibuprofen (headache pills are the next thing you need after you use the riot pad).
  • Tape measure (mine has a little paper taped on the side with all the equipment limits printed on it so I don't have to memorize them).
  • Safety pins.
  • Lock and key for the referees' dressing room.
  • Tissues and lip balm.
How about the puzzler's equipment bag?  As it happens, there's not a bag per se, but I'm fussy about that equipment as I am with the hockey gear.  The most important item is a clipboard, on which I can keep all the puzzles that aren't done yet.  And in the interest of domestic tranquility, I have a book light I can clip to it so I can finish a puzzle at night without bothering The Other Doctor Mitchell. 

As for writing tools: different implements for different puzzles.
*--you think this zebra would use any other brand?  There was a Zebra Pen ad on the boards at the Meadowlands: I always thought it should have been at the referee's crease.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cockney Rhyming Slang?

While we're debating what's fair and what's not, how about Cockney rhyming slang?  Sleuth setting for the Financial Times (puzzle No. 14,193) thinks it's OK.  Here's the clue and the intersecting letter I managed to get (*):

19a  Roughage about to follow pork pie. (5)  _ _ B _ _

Can you figure it out?  Answer is below the fold.

Rhyming slang is certainly unfamiliar to us Americans, but would you be OK with a themed puzzle using rhyming slang in each of the theme answers?  Cryptic solvers tend to like this kind of fun with words, so I think it would be OK as long as solvers are warned what to expect.  While rhyming slang was originated to conceal vulgar words, I don't think it would work in the locker room or on the ice here.  Even slightly intelligent humor tends to fly over the players and coaches heads.  

*--I liked the intersecting clue as well

20d  It might describe a lair a nob planned? (8)