23698 – prickly flowers

After yesterday’s fairly difficult vocabulary and music and lit. references, a puzzle where there’s little knowledge needed except for some food and drink and one bit of gardening. Not as easy as Monday’s, but there shouldn’t be anything to get you seriously stuck. (Hence one PB already noted in comments as I post this.)

Solving time 5:30

9 POCKET=appropriate,BOOK=reserve – two old favourite word-meanings for beginners to remember. If the def puzzles you, it’s US for ‘wallet’.
10 WELL,READ=”red”
20 LEG,AT,O – if you’re wondering what musical knowledge you need to keep up with Times setters, words like this (i.e. directions in printed music) are more useful than stuff like “Schoenberg taught Berg”. A very quick solver reported being held up for several minutes on a recent puzzle by not knowing about rit. = ritenuto/ritardando – easy for anyone who’s read any sheet music, but new to someone who hasn’t. There used to be a section of Chambers on music terms – if still there, it’s worth a look.
24 W,EST AFRICA=(safari etc.)* – anyone else carelessly put EAST and then have to correct it from 26D?
1 PORTERHOUSE = (short Europe)* – a kind of steak. Surface about BSE and the EU
4 DECIDER = re-diced, rev.
6 LIBRA=pound (Lat.) – possibly not listed in your English dictionary, but fairly well-known in plural form from LSD = librae, solidi, denarii = pounds, shillings and pence
7 RIO(t)
14 MANHATTAN – cocktail which includes whisky and that old xwd favourite “It.” = Italian vermouth.
15 WHIT,EBAIT=(a bite)*
21 OF,F,E.R.
23 C,ACT I – only mentioned in case you’re thinking “flowers??” as I did. A possible excuse is that (in Chambers at least), cactus is short for “cactus dahlia”.
25 ERG – hidden both ways in GREnadiER Guards

12 comments on “23698 – prickly flowers”

  1. Fastest ever at sub-14′ since i started using modern recording devices to time myself (i.e. a clock). The key for me I think is ‘everyday’ vocabulary…
  2. A cholesterol-fuelled 8:30.
    By chance, on first glance at the puzzle my eyes settled on the old THAT+CH chestnut, so I feared the whole thing might be a bit formulaic (“it” and “Act 1” also cropping up as old favourites), but it turned out to be quite entertaining.
    And yes, I did put EAST AFRICA!
    1. Yes, pocketbook can mean handbag, but it can also mean wallet, on the basis of the defs of pocketbook and wallet in a well-known American dictionary. (For the purpose of this clue, either version works.)
  3. Another sub 20 minutes easy one. I don’t buy cacti = flowers. Wikipedia defines them as Plantea and mentions trees and shrubs but definitely not flowers. 16 across is a nice clue. Jimbo
    1. 23D: The ‘cactus dahlia’ def turns out to be in Collins as well as Chambers, so just about kosher for the Times.

      Nice clues: on looking again, there are lots of nicely done clues in this one if you read them slowly.

  4. 8:59 here, which was perfect as I only had 10 minutes to look at it while waiting for some files to download. 12 down was a good anagram that I haven’t seen used before.
  5. Another very easy one. What a week! I, too, entered EAST AFRICA initially, but realized immediately it was wrong after a brief grumble that there was an unaccounted A.
  6. Today the checking letters made some entries fairly obvious with reference to the definition only or in the case of “perpendicular” – with no reference at all. Some easy wordplay as well although I missed some of the finer points such as It = Italian Vermouth , and Libra.
  7. Another canter, at 3:52. I didn’t fall for EAST AFRICA because I had already filled in ERG. I must say I prefer them harder than this, even if that means I occasionally screw up, as yesterday. Jason J
  8. Most varieties of cacti bloom infrequently but when they do, the flowers are of exceptional beauty.
    The 1969 movie “Cactus Flower” based on the play “Fleur de Cactus” by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy is well worth seeing. It starred Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman and Goldie Hawn.
    Cacti can be used attributively for the flowers as with “roses” in this example: “I see that you’re growing roses” (i.e. rose bushes or plants).
  9. Easy but not as so as Monday’s. Twelve are those not making the blog:

    1a Like this answer, relative to 1dn, in style of construction (13)

    8a Beginners in Chess Realise A Bishop is to move obliquely (4)
    C R A B

    13a Old-fashioned device for digital compression (10)
    THUMBSCREW. I think I prefer JPEG!

    16a Island on edge of Atlantic (4)
    I ON A

    17a Manage to conceal one’s dishonour (4)
    RU I N

    18a Where trains are stopped by a railway, not moving (10)

    22a Director’s position is less than fine (8)

    26a Talking bird (4)

    27a Attack an officer, an all out effort (7,6)

    2d Feel bewildered about book that’s unconventional (5)
    RE B EL

    3d Trains voices (9)

    12d (Secret agent)* replaced in most prominent position (6,5)

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