Times 23,840 – A late Valentine

1 SCATTERBRAINED – how do you make it? You ‘scatter’ BREADIN* is how.
13 ESCARGOT – true, not much is slower than a snail – CARGO in SET*. As the saying nearly goes, it was a brave man who first ate a snail.
15 LIBYAN – LIAN(a) holding BY.
19 PALLADIO – PALL + ADIO(s). Afraid I know nothing of the man save his name and the eponymous Palladian style, but architecture is far from being my strong point.
25 VALENTINE – isn’t this a week late? Fast = LENT, in VAIN + E(ast).
26 RECORDING ANGEL – monitoring one’s actions on Earth for judgement in the hereafter; alternatively, the symbol of gramophone companies before someone thought to use a dog listening to his master’s voice instead.
1 SURFACE TENSION – obvious that it’s an anagram of FINE COURTESANS, but I started off convinced that a CURTAIN would minimise exposure and was left wondering how FOENESS fitted into that.
2 AMNESIC – sure it’s right, CINEMAS*, but I would have thought AMNESIAC was more usual.
3 TWEET – TWEE+(linne)T. Is twee really ‘very pretty’? I thought it was more derogatory than complimentary, but that may just be me.
6 IMPARTIAL – 1 MP (m)ARTIAL. Nice misdirection with “just” as the definition.
7 EXOGAMY – EX + (AGO) reversed + MY, the choosing of a spouse from outside one’s close social group.
8 D’YE KEN JOHN PEEL? – a) hero of a traditional English folk song, and b) the popular BBC radio broadcaster, longest serving DJ on poptastic Radio 1, who also extended his repertoire on Radio 4.
18 SEEPAGE – as per Private Eye, see page 94 for details…
20 DRAWING – i.e. success = WIN, which is transvestite and thus in DRAG.

All in all, a diverting puzzle today, though the failure of the Crossword Club (now resolved as of 11:30 am GMT, it appears) is obviously vexing. What reference work will they offer us as compensation if this continues, I wonder? And while I know I’m supposed to be offering answers rather than questions, I can’t see how the wordplay works to make 14 down RIGOLETTO, and can’t see an alternative answer: am I missing the blindingly obvious here?

Time approximately 40 minutes including that presumption, as I had to do it the old-fashioned way by making a diversion on my way to work and buying an actual paper. Puzzle then had to compete with the opening of my post &c., checking e-mails &c., so didn’t have my full attention. I’d still classify it as slightly tougher than average.

28 comments on “Times 23,840 – A late Valentine”

  1. I live in California and so I notice when the puzzle isn’t up more often than night owls in Britain. The odd thing is that it always seems to be a Tuesday when it happens (Monday evening for me). Usually the puzzle is up within minutes of midnight (through the backdoor, almost never by clicking on “todays puzzle”). There’s really no excuse, of course; the puzzles should be queued up and come up automatically as the calendar rolls over like any well organized website. For some reasons the solutions seem to be like that and get enabled once the right day arrives but not the crosswords themselves.


    1. Information from other solvers in the US suggests that somehow the puzzle is prevented from appearing until midnight local time – so although our midnight is about your 4 p.m., only the back door (or PC clock jiggery-pokery) works until your midnight.
  2. The papers arrived just after I’d sent my message to the Times club to prod them about today’s puzzle (and Sunday’s Mephisto).

    10:59 for another quite tricky puzzle. I suspect non-Brits may have a fair amount of trouble with 8D – D’YE KEN JOHN PEEL. The music is under ‘sheetmusic’ here and the words are here.

    Don’t yet understand the wordplay in 19A but assume it’s PALLADIO from ‘architect’. 21D is my COD suggestion for smooth surface and misleading def.

      1. Quite so – I was trying to make “Io!” (a Greek exclamation I think) into the brief cheers, and think of some longer covering.
  3. Trying not to read the spoilers!

    But no, it’s not a midnight thing with this incident.

    I’ve started printing my puzzle the night before rather than in the morning because I got sick of fighting with the site before my cup of java. Sheesh, even the cat leaves me alone until he sees the cup half empty.

    I’m 20 hours past the publishing hour and there is only the “blank” page. I took a stab at the archives and even they are empty after Feb 15.

    1. Sorry to confuse – my comments about midnight were meant to explain why Paul usually needs the back door route, not why today’s puzzle was unavailable. (It’s now up)
  4. I had to wait to get the paper and then found this a very nice but quite difficult puzzle. As so many can’t actually get it I wont make any comment so as not to spoil things for people logging on to lodge a complaint! Mephisto was absent on Sunday and now this. Perhaps with my atlas I’ll be able to find The Times in London and go and throw mangelwurzels at them. Jimbo.
    1. I can’t help feeling that whether we receive a Times Atlas or Times Book of Whatever, we’ll probably find we can’t open the pages.
      >>>bows >>>exits
  5. I also lost most of my quality solving time before the paper-shop opened for business and I completed less than half before arriving at work. After that I had to make do with snatched moments here and there. I eventually gave up with 7 and 10 unsolved. Very disappointing especially as I now have a newspaper that I have no time to read.
      1. Thanks, Jimbo. I meant to say when I gave up on these two I cheated (i.e.used a solver) so I considered them unsolved. I never heard of PEON before but I had considered PEONY as a strong possibility – it was either that or PANSY – so maybe I was a bit hard on myself, especially as I had never heard of EXOGAMY either
  6. 14D: set up = RIG, that’s good = OLÉ!, then to = TO, and this keeps=contains ‘interest to the end’ = the final T in interest. I’m not very keen on the T(T)O part as for me, “to keep” doesn’t mean the same as “to keeps”, and “to the end” doesn’t mean “at the end”.

    Edited at 2008-02-19 12:46 pm (UTC)

  7. Quite pleased with myself today then, finishing it in 11:14, only 15 secs behind Peter! My COD is 13A, great definition, “hardly fast food”.
  8. I struggled with this one and took 45 minutes over it mainly because I couldn’t see either 1A or 1D. Like Topicaltim I wanted 1D to be a curtain and only got it once the down clues enabled me to get 1A so I had an S to start. I’ll go for 13A as COD for the novel definition.
    Well done Topicaltim for your first analysis. On my first day they put a different clue in the e-version to the one in the paper – clearly they like causing Tuesday beginners problems. Jimbo.
    1. I thank you. I had this nagging doubt at the back of my mind that if the on-line version decided to fail me again, it was bound to be today!
  9. I found this very tough and hung up my pen after 50 minutes with 3 clues in the SE corner unsolved.

    I’m getting good at “guessing” correct answers though, in this case recording angel (a term which I don’t recall having encountered before), peony (knew the flower but not the farm worker) and exogamy.

    Agree with linxit on 13 for COD – a completely and utterly brilliant clue. Honourable mentions to 1a, 11 & 18

  10. A quick question for the more experienced: Is the device (used twice here) of, for example, pointless being “in” vain and as transvestite being “in” drag used a lot in the Times? I got Valentine from the def and checking letters (assuming “tine” to be point) and missed out on “drawing” altogether (I didn’t have Palladio and grain to help with the checking).
    1. This kind of indirect wordplay is used quite often in Times puzzles. Except for a few fairly well-worn ones like retired/asleep = in bed, I usually get these answers from the def. and then see what’s going on.
  11. I enjoyed this one and also support 13A as COD. I did feel a bit cheated by 15A, however; ‘held’ has to be a past indicative in the word-play, where I think a present tense is required.
  12. I almost mirrored Penfold today. I missed 19a and 20d but managed to get GRAIN. I also failed to spot that pointless=”in” VAIN and assumed the point to be TINE, and missed transvestite=”in” drag.
    Anyone would think we knew each other !
    I struggled with 15a but was helped greatly by my new Times Atlas. Thanks Ed 😉
    1a was brilliant, 13a almost as good, but I’m going for 22a as my COD nom.

  13. Stumped by 8D, after a lot of trying, but upon seeing the answer here I realize there wasn’t a chance to begin with. I thought the rest was fairly difficult also, taking well over an hour. Well, there’s always tomorrow.
  14. Is 8A “runners up”?
    I’m new to cryptic crosswords, but it seems to fit. Bean – runner beans?
    I dunno.
    1. Yes, you’re right. RUNNER for bean, then SUP for ‘soup, nothing less’, i.e. SOUP without O (nothing).
    2. If you’re starting with the Times puzzle, full marks for nerve. You will find some of the puzzles very hard, but if you keep reading here, you should make progress.
  15. Unless I get the paper before bed, Tuesdays offer little in the way of solving opportunities until late in the day. Plodded pretty well through this until I hit 8 down, and put in “DYE KEN ????????”. Could have had an outside chance if I’d made the DJ connection, didn’t until I read the blog, but I’ve never heard of the song.

    Maybe he’s in the atlas.

  16. I found this decidedly tough but enjoyable, and finished reasonably quickly after a desperately slow start (15:15 in the end). I couldn’t work out the wordplay to RIGOLETTO either (for some reason the OLE part didn’t register) and was pleased to see Peter B’s explanation.

    I particularly liked 22A (STEEL BAND) so will go for that as my COD.

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