23668 – were you enlightened?

Solving time 9:58

A slow start, with 12A the first clue solved, and a slowish finish in the NW corner. Annoying old chestnut of the day was 16D, which should have taken no time at all rather than at least two looks. Probable new answer words for most: 5A on which I’ll have made up some time, 7 and 28. Quite pleased with sub-10 but vulnerable to anyone getting 10A quickly (which I’ll hazard a guess that Jason did, after looking at the early comments).

5 SAT(OR)I – I wrote down __AU__ / __OR__ by the clue on first look, then got the rest later with some checking letters. It’s “sudden enlightenment, as sought in Zen Buddhism”, but easy for serious crossword fans as it’s also an FT setter pseudonym – same man as Taupi in the Guardian. Taupi comes from a French word for mole, and should you ever need the Basque word for mole, “Satori” it is, apparently. In this little tale, the enlightenment meaning is a nice bit of serendipity. I suspect this one will cause a lot of trouble – getting SATI from ?A?I and “religious sacrifice” seems pretty difficult.
10 HAVE THE LAST WORD – (how the slav(e) trade)*
11 SOLD(i)ERS – action = fighting. Based on the recent trend for ‘soldier’, slightly suprised not to get a clue about melting bits of toast without electric current.
13 BAS(TILL)E – it was a fortress as well as a prison.
15 AS,HEN=food provider
20 CO-TENANT – covenant with V/T swap (not always hypenated in the way I’d expect)
23 CALYPSO – a Gk. mythology nymph as well as W Indian music. I didn’t know the Ithacan king link. It turns out that C kept Odysseus captive for nine years, and that he was a king of Ithaca. I can already hear Tony saying “Peter, how can you possibly not know that?”.
25 DEMESNE – (seed men)* – a crossword word to remember – I doubt much else fits D?M?S?E
26 LET ONES HAIR DOWN – 2 def’s, one cryptic. Cockney rhyming slang’s “Barnet fair = hair” seems fashionable at the moment…
27 THE MED – tricky def., so this may cause a bit of trouble. [I honestly did write this before reading about Thebes in the comments.]
28 FALCONET – once* in flat* – a small field gun used about 600 years ago, apparently
1 S(CH IS)T. Well-disguised this – I’m sure others will look for CH in an answer to ‘Peter, perhaps’.
2 CAV(AL,CAD)E – cave (Latin, as in “cave canem”) is a word of warning you just might remember from boarding school fiction (Jennings and the like) – “Cave, here comes a beak!”. Watch out for the form “A when B enter(s) C” – I’m pretty sure it leads to whichever of {A = B in C} or {C = B in A} you didn’t think of first.
4 C(a)RESS – we’re still at school here – (mustard and) cress is that stuff that you can grow on damp blotting paper.
7 O(V)O,LO – “spectacles” = OO, either from the appearance of the letters or from “pair of spectacles” – cricket slang for a duck in each innings. Answer familiar for some from barred-grid vocab, as richardvg’s comment suggests. Ogee is another moulding worth remembering.
8 IN DEMAND – indeed (= certainly) keeps=holds man and loses E = middle of fiEld.
9 WAR(C(HE)S)T – stops = fills, as in ‘stops a tooth’
17 BRACELET – care* in belt* – a matching anag. in anag. pair for FALCONET
19 EXPENSE = “ex-pence”. Applause if this has never been done before or was independently invented. No objection if it’s just a re-run of a good clue.
21 NUM(b),ERIC
22 RENNET = tenner rev. – stuff that curdles (= turns) milk.
24 LETHE – an underworld river in Gk. myth, causing forgetfulness – but presumably elephants who “never forget” were immune. This bit of Gk myth I knew, but almost certainly from previous xwds.

25 comments on “23668 – were you enlightened?”

  1. It mostly fell into place quite quickly but I was beaten by 5A and 7D and eventually cheated on line.

    I didn’t know either word and the word-play in 5A assumed knowledge of another word unknown to me – also as I had the A I was fixated on Gold = AU when it turned out to be OR. The word-play in 7D didn’t excactly leap off the page either; I keep forgetting V = See sometimes.

  2. It was all right in the end, and in fact I managed it in surprisingly good time of 9:20 (although that time is a bit approximate since I was separately interrupted by both a phone call and my wife coming in). But I came very close to giving up and putting THEBES in at bottom left before spotting THEMED. The top right was not too bad for me, with OVOLO being a fairly frequent appearer in crosswords, and SATORI being Japanese (my second language). SATI is not the normal spelling of SUTTEE, though, is it? But it looked a likely variant. (I am fairly familiar with the concept itself after reading “Around the World in 80 Days”). I also managed to misspell CAVALCADE as CALVACADE, slowing me down on 10A and 11A. FALCONET was one of those words I have vaguely heard of, without being too sure what it was. Jason J
    1. After two or three minutes scratching my head over 27A, I did put in THEBES. Final time 12:31.

      I didn’t find the rest too troublesome, though I did feel that there were quite a few words that I only knew through crosswords, and barred crosswords at that.

    2. SATI is a spelling we often use in India. Despite that advantage, I didn’t get 5a 🙂
  3. Can somone please explain 9D again… i still dont follow

    Also… why dose see = v and Gold = or ?….

    1. 9D – ‘hypothecated funds’ is the definition, man=he, civil service=CS, growth=wart.

      v is an abbreviation for vide, the Latin word for see.
      or is gold as used in heraldry, coming from the Latin aurum.

      I didn’t get 5A or 7D this morning 🙁

      1. It’s maybe worth noting that gold = OR is quite possibly more common than gold = AU. I’ll try to explain a bit more for this kind of stuff in future.

  4. 13:02 here, which I was quite pleased with at the time and even more delighted having seen the times of the speed merchants. That said, 23A, 25A and 7D were all filled in more in hope than expectation.
  5. “Sati” is the accepted spelling in India, “suttee” the British Raj version, and hence the one familiar to most Brits. It comes from the identical Sanskrit word meaning a “true or faithful wife” – though these days few Indian widows, one presumes, still carry faithfulness to the point of allowing themselves to be burned alive on their husbands’ funeral pyres. I happened to live for some years in both Japan and India, so this otherwise very difficult clue proved slightly easier for me than (it would seem)for some of the regular Times crossword speed kings – but I still took about four times as long as any of them to complete the whole puzzle.
  6. 19:53 for me – I found this really hard to get going for some reason, despite having no trouble with SATORI (there’s a shop called Satori in Hay-on-Wye, I looked it up years ago), CALYPSO, LETHE (knew the myths having read Robert Graves’ book not too long ago), and FALCONET (although I didn’t look at it until I had the crossing letters).

    I had vowed to myself that I wouldn’t make any mistakes in August, having made just one in July, but I put in THEBES for 27ac. So much for that!

    1. Satori was the first clue I wrote in, easy for anyone with buddhist tendencies 😉

      I have bought a number of books at Satori in Hay-on-Wye. Nice people there

  7. Assuming I’ve got the correct answer of DRAMA, can someone please explain the wordplay.
    1. “Notice rising” = AD backwards is the D and A on the outside, RAM = Aries = stars in the middle. Took longer to work out than most, I must admit!
      1. And should have been in my set of explained clues, but somehow got dropped. Must improve my post-checking process …
  8. After some electronic searching I think I got this. But I still don’t see why “given setting” is equivalent to “themed”.
    1. My best guess when soving was a vague connection between “setting” = music to accompany a poem or similar, and “themed” = given some music. I can’t really improve on this.
      1. Oh.. I was thinking of THEMED in a crossword context (as in a THEMED crossword about Greek islands)
  9. I’ll bet a pound to a penny this was Don Manley’s – are we allowed to play guess the setter?
    1. You can play, but you may not win – it’s a difficult game. And even when you do win, you probably won’t know …
  10. I thought at first that 26A might be LET YOUR HAIR DOWN, but I’m guessing ONES is the more usual crossword version in this and similar phrases.
    R. Saunders
    1. In the Times, very much more usual – they use YOUR just often enough to make it dangerous to ink in ONES with no glance at the crossing entries.
    1. One where grid entries are separated by thick black lines instead of black squares. A picture being worth a thousand words, you can see one at: http://www.crossword-compiler.com/output.html

      In theory, any type of crossword could use this kind of grid. In practice, most of the puzzles using barred grids are ones that use some or all of difficult vocabulary (usually from Chambers), exotic clue-types, and themes. Classic examples: Azed in the Observer every Sunday, the Listener puzzle (now in the Books section of the Times every Saturday).

      Moving up to barred grid puzzles is one way to get a new challenge when solving puzzles like the Times becomes routine.

  11. This took me ages (21:37), with a lot of that spent on 5A, as SATORI rang only the faintest of bells and I had to rely on SATI to solve it – and I wasn’t too sure about that either! THEMED was slow as well, as I spent some time trying to justify THEBES (but fortunately managed to resist it).
  12. The discussion was going well until the last 3 additions – pay-day loans & handbags – what?

    There are 7 omitted “easies” in this blog. Some have been discussed above but there they are in their full glory:

    1a Sports victory here is in the bag (4,4)

    12a Prisoner with criminal record has to toe the line (7)

    18a First female monarch to bring back old-fashioned official (5)
    RE EVE. That is backwards EVE and then ER for monarch – could be Edward not Elizabeth!

    3d Army corps has to deal with unhappy manoeuvre (7)

    6d Worker that’s upset wooman may be a feeler (7)

    14d Thrill’s ending – a sign that something’s wrong with English game (8)

    16d Workers not functioning without difficulty (5,4)

    24d Notice rising stars in that theatre production (5)
    D RAM A. Aries the RAM inside inverted AD.

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