Times 23857 – bit of music, bit of Latin

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Later than I had planned to post – and later than I had planned to solve. Plans change – sorry about that.
Solved in just over 50 mins – not as difficult as some recent ones, but plenty to think about.
I didn’t know ‘medlar’ so looked up that to check afterwards. Also toccata and ‘tide mill’ were new to me.


3 ASPIDISTRA – anagram of ‘star is paid’
10 MEDDLER – sounds like ‘medlar’ (crabapple-like fruit)
12 VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – Henry Vaughan is the Welsh poet; Tennessee Williams, the US playwright. Ralph Vaughan Williams is the composer.
14 FE(A(SIB)L)E – AL is the gangster, SIB is a sibling, FEE is charge. This held me up for a while. In fact I briefly thought it was wrong and considered SENSIBLE.
17 T(IDEM)ILL – got from wordplay – never heard of a ‘tide mill’ – idem, Latin for ‘the same’
21 COLERIDGE-TAYLOR – Samuel Taylor Coleridge is the poet; TAYLOR sounds like ‘tailor’ – Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is the composer.
24 MALL,A,RD = A=are, unit of area. Once you’ve seen one one large shopping centre, you’ve seen ’em all.
25 A POLL ON IAN – made me smile!


1 SAMO(V)A,R – V=vide(see) and R=’top of Russian’
4 SPRING – went for this but wasn’t sure about the ‘warped’ bit – see comments below.
6 I,D([r]EALISTIC)ALLY – I thought this was a good clue.
16 B(L)UDGE,ON –
17 TOC,CA,TA – TOC=cot reversed, CA=’chartered accountant’,TA=’Territorial Army’ – didn’t know the word toccata (a baroque musical composition) but felt confident after wordplay.
20 HERMI,A – HERMIONE with A swapped for ONE. I am working my way through the BBC Shakespeare adaptations at the moment – the last one I watched was A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few days ago, so this came easily. Can’t remember where Hermione comes from, though!
22 [b]LOTTO

44 comments on “Times 23857 – bit of music, bit of Latin”

  1. Will there be mention of the music mafia today, I wonder? VW should be okay but Coleridge Taylor is a bit obscure as I don’t think Hiawatha, his best known work, is performed much these days. I’m open to correction on this.

    I found the puzzle moderately easy until I became bogged down in the SW corner. I thought of A-POLL-IAN but didn’t know the meaning required here so I didn’t write it in with any confidence. Also thought of HERMIA but didn’t spot the wordplay or know the two characters needed to make it work. “Medlar” was another word I needed to look up to understand the answer.

  2. A fairly musical puzzle with TOCCATA as well as the double-barrelled composers. Classic FM were pushing a C-T violin concerto a year or two ago, so a few might get him without knowing of Hiawatha. I started well but took a long time to see Hermione/HERMIA and APOLLONIAN where I also didn’t know the def. I’m still doubtful about 4D – I put SPRING but without consulting dictionaries, SPRUNG seems equally OK if “to become” is a wordplay/def link.
    1. Poor logic here – sprung (or sprang) would be ‘bounded’, so SPRING it is.
  3. Top half went in fairly quickly, then I was quite lucky with the bottom half as I remembered HERMIA from a recent RTC puzzle and put her in without really understanding the wordplay (who’s Hermione?). I got TOCCATA once I had the T and first A, and that gave me COLERIDGE-TAYLOR, who I’d vaguely heard of from somewhere. Last to go in was APOLLONIAN, but that wasn’t too hard with all the crossing letters in place. 11:30 in the end.
  4. I found this a strange mixture of the very easy, the slightly odd and the obscure. 1A, 3A, 15D and 22D are examples of the easy. Like Peter I put SPRING in at 4D but wasn’t completely happy and at 16D is BUDGE ON really to change ones opinion – isn’t it to modify a negotiating stance? The obscurities have already been mentioned. I just guessed 21A and particularly 20D (which I’m not sure I fully understand even now). I thought 6D quite a nice clue. About 40 minutes in all to solve. Jimbo.
    1. In 16dn, ‘change opinion’ only clues BUDGE – it’s the ‘about’ that gives you ON. According to the Concise Oxford, to budge is to “change or cause to change an opinion”. The fundamental sense must be that of shifting position – position being spatial, dialectical, or negotiatory as the case may be.
  5. Yes, very much a musical theme. And some testing definitions. Is not Apollo the god of music, among his other Olympian functions? Apollonian in 25 ac, which I arrived at by the nice cryptic reading and the help of the checking letters, was new to me too in the sense of “orderly”, “self-disciplined”. My Chambers English Dictionary, unlike the Oxford English Reference Dictionary, does not spell this meaning out, but hints at it: “having the characteristics of Apollo, often in opposition to ‘Dionysian'”, which assumes that we all know what Dionysian means, and I guess most of us do. Medlar swam to the surface from somewhere deep in my subconcious, likewise Coleridge-Taylor, none of whose music I know. Like Peter B, I opted for SPRING in 4 dn without fully understanding it. However, on consulting my Chambers, I now see that “to give way, split, burst, explode, warp or start” are given among the meanings of “to spring” as an intransitive verb, and “to bend by force, strain” among its meanings when used transitively. Pretty abstruse as a definition, but on this evidence, I suppose we must allow, legitimate. “Technical challenge” seemed to me rather vague as a definition for TOCCATA (17 dn). Perhaps “virtuosic challenge/feat”, or something of the sort, might have been fairer, though I guess the setter feared that any hint of a musical connection might have given the game away too easily.

    Michael H

  6. For dorsetjimbo: Hermione was the Queen of Sicilia in “A Winter’s Tale”. If you replace the last three letters of her name – ONE – with A you get HERMIA, the lover of Lysander in AMSND.


    1. Many thanks for that. I had heard of HERMIA because my daughter played her once. I’ve never heard of Hermione and I guess I won’t be alone. The day they set a puzzle with the equivalent level of obscure scientific knowledge will be one to remember! Jimbo.
  7. Well 20 minutes today and without looking anything up. So my egg was quite hard-boiled, but the water hadn’t all evaporated!

    Composers weren’t a problem – let me see, a composer beginning with V? – only know the one anyway!

    Loved Abridge or Apollonian for COD.

  8. I thought this was a very enjoyable crossword, though I did wonder at one point whether I was going to finish it in reasonable time. APOLLONIAN must be one of he most literary clues for a long time and it was only towards the end that I got the answer and then marvelled at the definition, which I did recognize. 20d was equally difficult and literary (I couldn’t get away from TITANIA as the basis for some time, even though I could see it was not promising material for the wordplay).
    I didn’t really understand 4, and torn between SPRING and STRING, I entered STRING on the grounds that string can be twisted to make rope, and warp is a kind of rope.
    My choice of COD is 14.
  9. 4D might also be SHRANK or SHRUNK

    Knew about the Medlar because we made Medlar Jelly and Medlar Fudge last autumn from very old orchard of our friends. Yummy – tastes like fruity Xmas pudding after suitable ‘bletting’ (new word for the day) and preparation.

    Not happy with use of plural ‘ducks’ in 24 across


    1. Mallard can be the plural as well as the singular – sneaky but OK. I hesitate to comment on 4D in case there are even more answers out there, but I wouldn’t buy SHRA/UNK as it’s at least possible to make something smaller without changing its shape. I’d reject STRING as the ‘warped’ would have to mean ‘having a warp’ or ‘having been warped’. I can’t see that string is bound to be warped in either sense.
  10. 25 minutes of working things out through wordplay, although I have STRUNG for 4d which is probably not a correct definition, I thought of SPRING and SPRUNG originally but didn’t think either meant “warped”. Didn’t get either of the 15-letter clues for a long time, once they were in place finally got moving.
  11. Despite starting briskly the SW corner didn’t get full attention until about 20 minutes in, and 17A / 25A were major hurdles. Can’t say I’d heard of APOLLONIAN although it made logical sense, but TIDE-MILL was my downfall, never heard of it and the wordplay was clever (and fair) enough to leave me desperate – almost resorted to the blog, but the penny dropped at the last gasp.
    COD almost 25 but I’m going for 11 which brought to mind Mr Fawlty; a coincidence, as said comic evergreen is pictured elsewhere in the paper.
    1. 11ac contains an elementary clueing error: HERB is clued here as ‘basil’, but – unless I’m very much mistaken! – herb is not a basil.

      Astonishingly, the same mistake occurred in the first Grand Final puzzle in the 2006 Championships: “Cunning creature finds times of Mars’ rising” (3-3). I felt I had to leave this one blank, because DOG-FOX obviously couldn’t be right – god is not a Mars.

      The Chambers Crossword Manual aptly terms this phenomenon “false generalization”. An indicator like ‘perhaps’ is all that’s needed.

      1. A man after my own heart. Peter ran a poll on this sort of thing a little while ago and can probably point you in the direction of the comments and findings. Thanks also for the help on BUDGE.

        On the subject of The Times general standards of performance E-Mephisto 2480 still hasn’t appeared. Jimbo.

        1. That’s definitely one occasion where a “perhaps” really is needed. Offhand I can’t think of why it seems OK sometimes and sometimes does not.
          1. Spot on with the above three comments and I must hold my hands up and say I just didn’t notice it. Basil = herb just popped into my head instantaneously, which makes me wonder about the psychology of it. Def-by-example is clearly wrong – I sometimes wonder if the perceived level of wrongness increases according to the level of difficulty it engenders in the clue?
        2. The poll is here – and very controversial it was too – I abandoned my usual support for Ximenean standards and favoured the use of def by example without indication.

          In this case, the practical point I made about the number of possibilities applies. If you use ‘herb’ to define a 5-letter word, Chambers has 5 possibilities – THYME, BASIL and CHIVE plus more obscurely, YERBA and CLARY. If you ponder what Basil is an example of, there are two choices – man’s name and herb.

          1. Thanks for the link. I must say, I don’t understand the relevance of your practical point. Novice setters often come up with clues that are solvable (inasmuch as it’s possible for solvers to arrive at the answer) but that are nonetheless considered to be faulty.

            If you don’t mind my probing, allow me to test how far your pragmatic rejection of Ximenean standards goes. Practical considerations would surely license the following clue from Private Eye 360:

            It’s up pedant’s nuts, not milked (8)

            What’s your take on that? (To me, of course, it’s anathema…)

            1. If you judge clues by a fixed set of rules, practical points don’t matter – a clue is right or wrong. But I believe the rules are there to ensure that the game is fair. My initial reaction to this practice in the Times, in about 2003, was agin it. But I gradually got used to it and it didn’t seem to make clues unfair once you knew it was on the cards.

              I don’t like the Eye clue because the wordplay is really ‘It’s “up pedant”, nuts’, or ‘”Up pedant”‘s nuts’ – the version given doesn’t make sense. [I’m assuming you’re happy that ‘not milked’ is not merely an example of ‘untapped’, but a synonym.]

      2. As indicated in the poll referred to below, “false generalization” is now permitted in the Times puzzle …
  12. I’ve heard of Vaughan Williams and Coleridge Taylor but couldn’t name a single thing that any of them wrote and only got them with lots of checkers. HERMIA was a Willy Waggledagger too far. I guessed at TOCCATA, but think COT=shelter is a bit tenuous. TIDE MILL beat me fairly and squarely. Far, far too much literary stuff and other obscurities today. I didn’t enjoy it at all
    1. RVW’s greatest hits:
      The Lark Ascending, for violin & orchestra.
      The usual tunes for the hymns ‘He who would valiant be’, and ‘For all the Saints’.
      English Folk Song Suite, originally for military band. Played about every four hours on Classic FM.
      The Wasps – suite for orchestra – the initial overture is the famous bit.
      Sinfonia Antarctica (recycled from music for a film about Captain Scott).

      I’d be very surprised if you didn’t recognise at least some of these.

      1. I don’t mind people like Vaughan Williams appearing in crosswords so long as they’re not clued along the lines of “Composer whose bird was on the way up?”, which sometimes happens. In my view, today’s offering probably stepped a little way into the unfair zone due to us needing to also know a Welsh poet (I don’t) and an American writer (easy, given Tennessee) which I consider, maybe wrongly, to be in the same general sphere of knowledge. I am willing, however, to give it the benefit of the doubt. I won’t do that for 20d though. “Take the last three letters off a Shakespearean character and replace them with another letter to get a character in another, unnamed play ” is just ludicrous.

        Belated thanks by the way for the link to the trumpeter last week. I didn’t think much of the singing or the song, but the trumpeting was fantastic.

        1. I guess one defence for the Shakespeare stuff is that one of the ladies is in MND – the single play most worth knowing for xwd purposes, as the fairies and mechanicals offer lots of clue opportunities.
      2. Am making a mess of all this. My post below about the Tallis Fantasia should have been here.
        1. No I’m not – I’ve just discovered something about this message board: if you click on reply below a person’s message, and that person has posted a second message later, your reply to the first message goes below the second one.
  13. Like George I went for STRUNG for 4 thinking that, colloquially at least, warped and (highly) strung are both associated with one’s mental condition.

    Had to look up Coleridge Taylor and Hermia, guessed at meddler and and got apollonian and tide mill from the wordplay alone.

    All of which meant a rather slow 44 minutes

    Why is shelter “cot” in 17 anyone?

    COD nom from me is 22 – was it the Bish of Southwark who was wandering around pissed (allegedly) fairly recently?

    1. “Cot” is an alternative spelling for “cote” as in “dovecote”. Collins defines it as a shelter.

      Only one composer beginning with a V? Verdi, Vivaldi for two more.

    2. Certainly was the Bishop of Southwark. His alleged response to being found throwing toys around in the back of a stranger’s car continues to make me laugh:

      “I’m the Bishop of Southwark. It’s what I do.”

  14. Thanks for making me laugh with the comment on English Folk Song Suite. Add “found in every closet of every wind symphony on the planet”.
    1. OK then, what’s your wind instrument? So far in the TftT band we have me on trombone and talbinho on tuba. Not quite as many as the RTC virtual chorus on Tony Sever’s blog, but building up gradually.

      Edited at 2008-03-10 08:29 pm (UTC)

      1. Mostly sax, though I play some clarinet and, if forced to, oboe. I direct our college’s Pep Band, if you were watching ESPN 2 very closely on Saturday morning (the UNCA vs Winthrop game) I was embarrassingly in frame for a few seconds
  15. Reading the comments above suggests that the clue to 4D was very poor, to say the least. I guessed SPRUNG, but I assumed I was missing something obvious. I do not think I was, to judge from the comments!
  16. I put in STRING without being entirely certain why; if I’d put in SPRUNG it would have been equally uncertain. I also had to wait for lots of checking letters to get COLERIDGE TAYLOR, who I think is a level of fame down from VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, though I’m sure I’ve come across clues before which play on the difference between SCT the composer and STC the poet.
  17. I found it quite enjoyable. Can’t explain ducks = mallard. One duck = mallard, more than one duck = mallards, I would think. I bickered a bit with basil thinking a ‘perhaps’ was warranted there.

    COD I went with 19.

  18. Should read all the comments thoroughly before posting, eh.

    Ducks explained, ducks quickly out of here!

  19. A tricky one alright. I get bound = spring at 4d but still don’t know what the warped bit is about?

    A boat-crew of “easies”:

    18a Thus the Italian buried a constituent of sandstone (6)
    S IL IC A. Surely a write-in for a geologist? Sadly it took longer to see the wordplay.

    23a Commodity – (clear it)* out (7)

    26a Eyesore installed by hasty engineers (4)

    5d Modern church feature synod finally prompted (8)

    7d One worried over a bone (5)
    TIB 1 A. One worried = 1 BIT and over = upside down.

    8d Person having brush with English entertainer? (7)

    9d (A mural in chapel)* oddly using letters and figures (14)

    15d Of outstanding ability, (till brain)* decays (9)

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