23,784 – Authors aplenty

Not too difficult for this book lover, with a string of mainly two word
clues, including ‘author’.

Solving time: 25 mins

* = anagram < = reversed

5 HO (RN) P I PE Very intricate wordplay, but I got it straightaway from the definition
10 SOUP UP My penultimate entry
11 KETTLEDRUM Cryptic definition based on whistle from a kettle as it comes to the boil, I think
13 A (Princess) IDA Had heard of both of these musical works (Gilbert & Sullivan and the opera) so pencilled this in straightaway. Suspected the clue may refer to the plots of both – a quick look at Wikipedia afterwards confirmed this.
15 (d) EF (FULG) ENCE (gulf)*
23 SCH (school) OEN (one*) BERG The composer Alban Berg was a pupil of his.
25 BIKIN’ I Clue of the day for me.
28 S (Origin of Species) TRONGLY (Try long)*
29 BILLY (can)- O (Oxygen).
2 ON THE NOSE Glasses = spectacles. (Horse racing) Betting to win only i.e. not to be placed (2nd,3rd, or sometimes more)
4 NO D
5 HOMER Weak official = referee tending to favour the home side
6 R ESEMBLANCE (became lens)* Excellent surface
7 PLUM AGE My last entry Wording a little unusual – think it means time = age; one puts on superb= put something (that means superb) above it i.e. plum
12 EVE R (LAST) ING last = trailing. A while since I had a gobstopper but Wonka’s everlasting ones have been around since 1976 apparently – I got the answer from the wordplay once I’d a few crossing letters.
16 FRO orf(e)< As in ‘to and fro’
22 SWIFT I hope this is right. Would not quite have equated ‘racy’ with ‘swift’

41 comments on “23,784 – Authors aplenty”

  1. Sorry, but I found today’s puzzle so disappointing to the extent I want to post anonymously.
    For a while I considered 20D as the single resurrection that might deserve COD, but “given X to put through Y” doesn’t even work well enough for that.
    There appear to be several questionable clues – 28A; why the capitalised O of Origin, why “though” before the def? 26A – “pass” = “cross”?
    And then the batch of themed answers… no reason not to have a theme of course, but aren’t their clues just a little… dull?
    In the end I had 3 answers in the NE corner that defeated me – but just couldn’t be bothered to give them any more time.
    Very, very flat.
  2. Under half an hour this morning, so overall must be an easy one. An “author” theme which I found somewhat flat with those clues more worthy of the Daily Mirror (I’d guess) – Meaty author = Lamb! wow!

    Got Beef Up for 10A at first, which hindered getting Plumage.

    One or two nice clues though, such as 25A

  3. A puzzle with a theme today and I found it quite tricky in places, mainly centre field.

    All of the authors went in quickly with the exception Swift who was my very last entry having finally cracked my COD at 25. I also liked 4 which was rather inventive for a 3-letter word I thought.

    I still have one query at 5d. Assuming the answer is HOMER I don’t know why, or whether it’s my ignorance of the writer, baseball, pigeoning, The Simpsons or something else that is preventing me from seeing it.

  4. 6:42 for this. The seven authors were mostly easy. Only just realised the logic behind 5D (homer = referee/umpire pandering to the home crowd) – I’d wondered about the career of Mr Simpson. The EVE,R(LAST)ING wordplay at 13D was only spotted post-solve. 21A seems a nice clue.

    26A: pass = cross – David Beckham would understand!
    28A: The Times puzzle allows unnecessary capitals. I guess I’m used to it, but I don’t think it’s ever bothered me.

    1. As a matter of interest where did you find that definition, Peter? It’s not in any of my dictionaries nor the on-line ones I’ve looked at. I don’t have the Oxford which I believe is, with Collins, the Times crossword bible.
      1. I must admit to deducing it from “home-town decision” rather than looking it up or checking it. It’s not in my copies of Collins or the Concise Oxford, but they are old ones. I hope this means that it’s been added to one of them recently.
          1. It is in the New Oxford, and I seem to remember it occuring in another crossword not so long ago; anyone else remember it?

            As for the pathetic state of the Times Crossword site …….

            I’m also waiting for my e-mail to complete registration.

            Harry Shipley

  5. 19:35 for me today, half of which was taken up trying to think of 14 Extra author = MORE. I immediately thought of POPE and couldn’t get it out of my head!

    23A: I’ve seen this clue before, which relies on the solver knowing that Alban Berg was Schoenberg’s pupil. My COD is 2D, nice cryptic DD.

  6. Like “anon” I thought the themed clues were less than adventurous, but some nice clues elsewhere. 3D actually bucked the unadventurous trend and I liked the use of “dam”. That’s my COD.
  7. Today’s puzzle was easier than yesterday’s, and if some of the clues were a bit uninspiring I nevertheless thought it a reasonable effort overall.

    As for the site itself, it remains utterly shambolic. I have only been able to get hold of the cryptic at all because of Peter’s timely tip on Wednesday – thank you, thank you Peter! This morning it seemed to be ok until I put in my password and it rejected it as being less than six characters – true but it has never bothered it before so what do I do next? Customer services promise to get back to me within four working days.. now the site seems to be down again… mutter, mutter, grizzle

    1. Agree with you about the shambolic site!
      [rant] It decided this morning that I’d have to re-register, and sign in with my email rather than my username.
      Then it said I’d have to wait for an email to confirm my email address, which I’m still waiting for four hours later.
      And of course it won’t let me sign in either with my username or my email now.
      So without the URL from Wednesday to log on with, I’d still be crosswordless.
      How hard can it be to run a small crossword site? It’s hardly the NHS.
    2. The Times site is a disgrace – if they can’t keep it running smoothly, then at the very least they should add on an extra day to subscriptions for each day that it’s not functioning.

      I think misleading capitalization like Origin of Species is sufficiently well established to be fair.

      I have to admit I quite enjoyed the author theme – COD was 25A, which raised a smile.

  8. So can anyone explain 7D and 16D? I thought perhaps “plushie” for 7D but can find no evidence that such a word exists.
  9. I don’t know how long this took me because with about half done in 15 minutes I dozed off. Thanks for explanation of “homer”, which I didn’t know. I too put “beef up” at 10 across until 6 down showed it had to be wrong. No COD for me today. Jimbo
    1. Dozed off????
      Surely that’s the ultimate insult to a crossword setter!

      Mind you, on this one I had to keep awake by walking about.

    2. “Thanks for explanation of “homer”, which I didn’t know.”

      Well,Jimbo, so far Peter is the only person who says he knows of it and we still haven’t had a definition from any recognised reference source. It’s a rotten clue in my opinion.

      1. Yes, I agree. Its not in Chambers or Collins. Roget’s Thesaurus gives referee = homer but nothing about favouring the home side. The University of Wolverhampton has done research into a claim made by an ex-footballer Ian Wright that a disallowed England goal in a European Cup game in Portugal showed the referee to be “a homer”. Jimbo.
        1. I have to support Peter (creep, creep) on this one. There’s even a football song at Championship ground I frequent which includes the line “the Ref’s a homer” although it’s usually sung when we’re losing away from home. So it’s arguable that the word is in common parlance.

          To me it feels a little over-pedantic to require a dictionary reference, but I guess it wouldn’t if you were one of those who hadn’t heard the term…

          1. I hope we’re not being pedantic. In part I’m curious and willing to learn a new usage. I see from above that apparently its in the New Oxford, which is one of the two references cited by the Times for this crossword. I do believe that we must have that fallback standard or things would be very difficult, particularly for competitions like Cheltenham. If there was an author called Squop and the compiler offered “author who hides a wink” you might struggle unless you knew that squop is a term used in tiddlywinks! Jimbo.
          2. I wasn’t doubting Peter’s word for one moment, I was just interested to find out whether the term was officially recognised by any reliable source of reference.

            In my view if a dictionary entry were not required then any ephemeral piece of technical jargon or street slang might turn up and exclude those who don’t inhabit that particular world from solving and/or understanding the puzzles.

            The daily cryptic is supposed to give the average solver a fair chance and the fact that so far “homer” in this sense appears to have made it only to one dictionary of note suggests to me that this clue is very near the borderline of what is and is not acceptable.

  10. I’m beginning to sound like a right old moaning minny, but all these author references were just boring. I was missing the NE corner, probably down to the fact that I had confidently entered ACETONE in 7d – Time=T, one=ONE on suberb=ACE. I had it in my head that acetone was something paint-related, thus coat. Completely ruined any chance I had of completing it
  11. This is very familiar to anyone interested in football as I am – it normally appears in reports as “homer” i.e. in inverted commas. The comments here suggest it may have been unfair as not generally known to others and not in dicts (it’s not in Chambers either).
    1. Indeed, i was aware of the definition!
      And quite like the crosswords to have a theme, so was reasonably happy with this one.

      Not too accustomed to a billy as a can but thats just me being a bit of a foreigner, easily remedied.

  12. A further gripe about the state of the Times crossword web site: I have finally been able to gain access, after being required to re-register, with new user name and password, and to pay a new subscription fee(even though there was still time to run on the old one – no offer of refund). Even after all that I still can’t activitate the Concise RTC, only getting a panel telling me there is a 404 Error, whatever the hell that is. Anyone else having this problem?
      1. Same here – I got a load of confirmation links by email and they all errored, so I can’t log in.
        Then for no reason, next time I clicked on the bookmark for the crossword club, it just went straight in as though reading old cookie.
        Next time, told me to log in and wouldn’t accept either username or email address.
        I’m surely not going to pay again though if they so require.
        This site must be run by the government it’s so bad.
        So far anyway, the link from Wednesday gets me in so I’ll stick with that.
  13. The end of a fairly literary week. I started this one surreptitiously in a meeting, and got a little frustrated to only have about half done, then knocked out the rest during lunch. Not much to add, though I thought the author clues were a bit of a change, more used to seeing that sort of thing in the Jumbo.
  14. Amidst all the foul cries on 5D, can I also just point out that Homer was blind and practised oral poetry – so never “wrote down” his works, they were simply passed on orally by his acolytes for centuries. So I delayed about putting it in because I didn’t think one could classify him as an “author”! Now that’s pedantry…

    I would be very grateful if someone could explain to me why the hell 10A is SOUP UP. I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m a bit thick.

    1. 10A – To SOUP UP a car means to tune the engine, make it go faster, i.e. add oomph. SOUP is a course (at dinner) and UP means “at university”.
    2. Even worse, according to Wiki and other sources, there is no evidence that he ever existed.

      I’m amazed that I didn’t know this – I’ve seen busts of him, pictures, books, the lot. And it’s all make-believe.

      Much obliged to you for pointing that out.

  15. i loved BIKINI. Not enough of them around NYC in the winter I must say. Both the Berg/Schoenberg and Princess Ida clues have been used recently in The Times… scary that I recognized them.
  16. Willy-nilly doesn’t mean “at random,” though people use it that way these days. It means “willing or not,” with the usual implication being “not.” Surely somebody at The Times knows that!!! All that literarity and they make this goof???


    1. Yes, what you say is the main meaning in dicts. But my Concise OED (one of the dicts the Times uses) and also Chambers give “haphazardly”

  17. I usually don’t like DDs – especially 4 letter ones – but this set of authors was OK for a change.

    My LOI was PLUMAGE at 7d. I get the wordplay but I find difficulty accepting the equivalence of plumage (feathers) with coat (fur).

    Another fine XI on the bench in this one:

    1a Capital author (6)
    LONDON. Jack of White Fang.

    14a Extra author (4)
    MORE. Thomas of Utopia.

    18a Grammatical term (revised, burn a)* novel (6,4)
    VERBAL NOUN. A noun like DECISION derived from the verb TO DECIDE. Made more difficult ‘cos the clue looked like “bum a novel” with this pesky font.

    20a Meaty author (4)
    LAMB. Charles of Tales from Shakespeare (with sister Mary).

    21a Leader essential to SovieTS ARguably (4)
    TSAR. Very good HA.

    26a Pass by communist organisation offering aid (3,5)
    RED CROSS. Some did not like PASS = CROSS.

    8d Author’s pen (5)
    POUND. Ezra the Poet.

    17d Afraid of someone shooting? (6-3)

    20d Politician given time to put through new (bill)* (7)

    24d Tough author (5)
    HARDY. Thomas the not at all Obscure.

    27d Haul up rotten fish (3)
    DAB. Or bad hauled up.

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