Times 23,908

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 12:58

Another tough-ish one, I think, but full of good things. Perhaps someone will explain exactly how 24 works. (Peter did. See below.)

As an HP fan, I was delighted to see quidditch appear, though it seemed daring to include it without indicating that it is a fictional game. I am not sure why, as I wouldn’t see any need for 22 to indicate that Jo March was a fictional person.


1 BAR(O QU.)E – you can read this with “style” as the definition, but I prefer to read the whole clue as a definition as a semi-&lit
5 POST BAG – surprisingly deceptive structure for such a short clue
10 A DELE – dele is a printer’s mark for deletion, and Adele is the maid of Rosalinde von Eisenstein in die Fledermaus. (I had to look that up afterwards. The only Eisenstein I could think of was the Battleship Potemkin one.)
17 FIFTH COLUMNIST – I guess this should be read with “subversive” (n) as definition, though the whole thing can be read as a joke definition.
21 DIAERESIS, (AS I DESIRE)* – subtle definition
23 (ho)T + RASH
24 INTRO – not sure how to read this one. INTRO means “the start”. Is the point of “literally, of” that it is also the start of a word? On edit: Thanks to Peter for the information that the clue in the paper was: “24 The start – literally, of Troilus and Cressida (5)”
That play begins with the words: “In Troy, there lies the scene.” So it wasn’t an incomprehensible clue, it was a transcription error for one that required detailed knowledge of a little-known play.
25 PRE((musi)C)LUDES
26 EX-CLAIM – very clever


1 BUBBLE – “the bubble reputation” is from the fourth of Jaques’ seven ages of man in As You Like It
2 RELAPSE, being ESPAL(i)ER(rev)
5 PIC (=”pick” = best)
6 S(MAR)T – another well-disguised (at least from me) structure
8 GREY SEAL (=”grace eel”)!
13 ARTHUR’S SEAT – I enjoy the way “behind” switches to a noun for the cryptic reading
15 DONATE + L, L, + O(ld)
16 OFF + DRIVE – at least this seems to be the only cricket reference today
19 STAND-IN(g)
20 C(irca) + HASTE
22 RIOJA, being A(JO)IR(rev)

22 comments on “Times 23,908”

  1. Negotiated my way through most of this tricky puzzle, but slipped up at the end on the Shakespeare, wrongly guessing at BABBLE, rushing too much to see that BUB?L? had any matches or that a BUBBLE is ‘all-round’. Other hard stuff: ADELE at 10A is a character in Die Fledermaus. You all know one of her songs – here’s someone singing it rather well in English. Arthur’s Seat is a hill in Edinburgh, and in 22, Jo is one of the March sisters in Little Women.

    I think Richard does OK with the lit, so he may beat me on time as well as correct answers. I stopped the clock at 11:35.

  2. Well we were due a stinker before long and we got it today as far as I was concerned. I finished it in about an hour with no assistance but I needed to check the reasons for BUBBLE and ADELE neither of which I could have guessed as these are things one either knows or doesn’t, and I didn’t. Fortunately I was able to guess the answers.

    It was all a long, hard slog but the NE corner gave most trouble because I had written a wrong answer at 1dn early on which screwed everything up until I spotted BALLISTIC at 9ac and realised my mistake. Actually I quite liked my answer at 1dn: GLOBAL (geddit?) which I had managed to persuade myself worked rather well though I now see it didn’t really fit the bill.

  3. In the version you and I solved, it just doesn’t work! We got:

    24 The start – literally, of (5)

    when we should have got

    24 The start – literally, of Troilus and Cressida (5)

    (It turns out that the play starts with the words “In Troy”, though I’m not sure how many solvers will claim to know this. The obscurity of this reference has balanced my guilt about not knowing something from the Seven Ages of Man speech, which I’d count as well-known Shakespeare.)

    So the club version of the puzzle is still incapable of doing text-formatting like bold or italics, as well as proper numbers. Dearie me …

  4. Not another one of these clues! In the prize puzzle I shall be blogging on Saturday we were expected to know the very last word of something else. Fair enough if it’s from a well-known quotation, but not just a random word.

  5. After 25 minutes, I was left staring at 1d, 10a and 21a. Liked a lot of the rest of the puzzle – I laughed when reading the blog, I was thinking “Arthurs Seat isn’t really in Melbourne, it’s on the Mornington Peninsula, where my step-grandmother lives”. 16d was nice and tricky, it was with playing with some words starting with OFF that DRIVE popped out and I liked it (fellow Americans, learn more cricket).

    And now to George’s demise… guessed bubble at 1d. Guessed diaeresis at 21 (knew the word, was fumbling with placing those vowels). Guessed AMELA at 10ac – of course I had “GRAY SEAL” at 8d. Two errors for the price of one!

  6. Finished correctly in 23:15, though how I managed to get through all that literary nonsense unscathed is a mystery. March=Jo ? Seven Ages of Man? Eisenstein’s Maid? Do me a favour! At least we got some 21st century literature today. Shame really because the rest of it was really good. I immediately knew what the answer to 21a was but needed several checkers to get the spelling right. I still don’t fully understand SMART at 6dn. I’m presuming that some months=MAR(ch) in ST, but how does “having chips in” fit? Lucky guess of the day was BUBBLE, based entirely on “all round”, but then again it would be because the rest of the clue was pants.
    COD goes to 17a
    1. I think things with microchips in them are (or were at one time) called “smart”. Somebody will know more about it than I do.
      1. You know what? I think you’re right. Thanks for that and what a fantastic clue!

        I didn’t mention Troilus and Cressida in my rant above, but I solved it from the online version and only had “the start – literally,of”. I just thought it was a shabby cryptic def hinting at “the start of a book”. Obviously, being a world authority on the works of Willy Waggledagger, I would have got it immediately if I had the full clue 🙂

  7. On the page we were sent to by Peter, there’s a link to something else very special that’s been done to that particular Strauss. Do click on the version of the same song by Florence Foster Jenkins. She filled the Carnegie Hall with her concerts, and rewarded a taxi driver with a box of cigars after a crash, when she found she could sing “a higher F than ever before.”
    1. It’s nice to know that The Glory????? of the Human Voice is still available on Amazon – I guess it always will be. (Our vinyl copy is safely in the attic) She murders the Queen of the Night aria (Die Hölle Rache) even more comprehensively. On the back of the LP, the ‘Faust Travesty’, numbers from the Gounod opera recorded by a couple of people who just walked in off the street into some recording studio, is funnier as I remember it, but for that it seems you must still pay money – no sign of it on Youtube.
  8. 1ac ‘BAROQUE’ – outstanding
    6dn ‘SMART’ – even better
    17ac ‘FIFTH COLUMNIST’ – a beauty
    9ac ‘BALLISTIC’ – really nice wordplay. I’m not so sure about the definition.
    10ac ‘ADELE’ – very guessable, especially if you knew your printers’ terms (I made it interesting by persistently reading it as “Einstein’s maid” – I won’t even try to explain where that led me)
    24ac ‘INTRO’ – how very postmodern that it was truncated in the online puzzle
    1dn ‘BUBBLE’ – hmm. For once I’m joining 7dpenguin in the “Down with Waggledagger” camp. Arguable just how cryptic this is. I ended up babbling in dunce’s corner with Pete, having first gone ‘global’ with jackkt. And that’s despite knowing the quotation.

    Apparently a baroque (n) can mean “an irregularly shaped pearl”. Which nicely describes this puzzle for me.

  9. Troilus and Cressida was our set text for English A-Level but even with that in the clue I doubt I’d have pounced on it. I just put in intro because it fitted. Maybe one day this word will be clued with reference to the Bonzo Dog Doo-dah band’s The Intro and the Outro.

    I agree with 7dP that an otherwise excellent puzzle was spoiled by the setter taking the p**s with all the literary nonsense.

    I gave up after 55 minutes with a slack handful of blanks in the top half. Needless to say I didn’t get bubble and is “moved by gravity” exactly fair for ballistic? According to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source in the world I’ll admit, but still) “A ballistic body is a body which is free to move, behave, and be modified in appearance, contour, or texture by ambient conditions, substances, or forces, as by the pressure of gases in a gun, by rifling in a barrel, by gravity, by temperature, or by air particles”. Moved by gravity to me would suggest tides, moons and apples.

    COD 4dn

    1. “moved by gravity” for “ballistic” seems fine to me. “Ballistic” is most commonly encountered with “missile”, and missiles fall into two types: powered ones (V1s, cruise missiles) and ones that aren’t powered for most of their journey (V2s, ICBMs). And the trajectory of the latter is the parabola determined by constant downward acceleration at g. (Or maybe I just see it that way because I read “Gravity’s Rainbow” at an impressionable age.)
  10. Put in blinder for blender so ended with Alice rather than Adele. So a possible 12 minute finish was spoilt although would have taken a long time to get Eisensteins maid anyway.
    COD was 6d – would never have worked out the “chips in” part.
    A lot of good clues. I personally don’t mind the literary references. For March always think Amy,Beth,Jo or Meg. I can see how these clues can irritate but if the other part of the clue and the checking letters leave no other logical option then it seems fair game – i.e. wine = r-o-a
    1. I think “all delivered” defining POSTBAG is a little elliptical, but not unfair. As well as meaning “mail-sack”, “postbag” is “a term used collectively for letters received” according to Chambers. Which from a recipient’s point of view is pretty close to “all [that is] delivered”, isn’t it?
    2. Dorosatt, I’m surprised you let “Grey seal” slip by without a complaint about the “spelling” mistake:-)
  11. There are odd occassions when a puzzle ceases to be a proper test and becomes unfair. This puzzle fits that bill. Luckily I had forty winks after golf before tackling it but still required 45 minutes and some lucky guesses to finish it.

    INTRO is just ludicrous, even worse than the rubbish Jack refers to that was served up last Saturday. BUBBLE is nearly as bad – only guessed this by relating B?B?L? to something round and to those add the hopeless obscurity Eisenstein’s maid and a very questionable homophone – utter hogwash and moonshine.

    The great pity is that there were some excellent clues mixed in there with the dross. Jimbo.

  12. Very difficult today, took about an hour and the last several were guesses, i.e. BUBBLE, ADELE, INTRO, OFF DRIVE, SMART, RELAPSE. Reading the blog helps me realize how many literary references went right over my head, and I now see that much of it was very clever. I’ll be gone til mid next week, see you then.
  13. 11:13 with a couple of wild guesses but surprisingly no errors. This is the sort of puzzle I’d hate to see at Cheltenham. I didn’t know a single one of the literary references apart from QUIDDITCH, for which I don’t think ‘the game is up’ is fair: it needs to be ‘this game is up’ or ‘game that’s up’ or something. But I did like ‘One sent to cover’ for OFF-DRIVE, even if mine would be more likely to end up in the slips.
  14. Definitely hard work this one. And I also put blinder for blender and thus had Alice (after all, a lice is plausible as some sort of printer’s mark I’ve never heard of). Probably closer to 2 hours yesterday evening and on the train this morning (yes, we have trains in California and they even go somewhere useful occasionally).

    I loved some of the definitions (one sent to cover, a bit of capital that’s raised) and although I got bubble I had no idea what it had to do with Shakespeare.

  15. That was a tricky ‘un right enough. To my great surprise I completed it all correctly despite guessing at 1d BUBBLE (all-round) and 24a INTRO (the start) for the Shakespeare and 10a ADELE for the J Strauss II. No problem with the Harry Potter reference at 3d – sums up my literary knowledge!

    There are half a dozen “easies”:

    11a Oil, say, I had put on part of face (5)
    LIP I’D

    14a (Erect RADAR site)* at sea, where access can be controlled (10,4)
    RESTRICTED AREA. The caps for RADAR are mine – acronym.

    27a Easily defeat in (recount)* that’s ordered (7)
    TROUNCE. An anagram that took me ages to see for some reason.

    3d A hundred pennies drop: the game is up! (9)
    QUID DITCH. Easy if you had children in the 1990s.

    7d Mixer in litres taken in drunken spree (7)

    25d Dog needs a clean up (3)

Comments are closed.