Times 23,979 – Thirty Something

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Quite a mixed bag of clues ranging for the clever (7Down) to the not-so-bright ((5Down) to some which I cannot parse ((6&17Across).

1 REELEDOFF Rev of ODE (poem) LEER (nasty look) + FF (very loud)
6 DITTO I have been staring at this and still do not understand the word play
9 THE WOMAN IN WHITE The Woman in White is an epistolary novel written by Wilkie Collins in 1859.
10 DUNLIN Dun (brown) Lin (e)
11 THIRSTED Ins of R (end of bar) in THIS TED (old rocker like the Mods and the Teddy boys)
13 CELANDINES *(line dances)
14 ASIA Ins of SI (Systeme International (d’Unites), the modern scientific system of units) in A-A
16 PART Part (y)
17 ABLE SEAMAN This is yet another answer that I have not been able to parse
19 TRAINERS These are running shoes
20 REDTOP “read” (looked at) top (first) A new word for me. I have always referred to the Sun as a tabloid with nice pictures on Page Three
23 LIGHTNING STRIKE Allusion to that popular misconception that lightning never strikes twice at the same place
24 YIELD Replace the F in FIELD with Y
25 EYEBRIGHT *(they’re big) A small plant of the genus Euphrasia formerly used as a remedy for eye diseases.

1 deliberately omitted
2 ETERNALTRIANGLE *(girl alternate en) A lovely &lit clue
3 EMOTIONS Ins of motion (movement) in ES (My Harrap’s give es as contracted article – es les; licencle(e) es lettres = Bachelor of Arts (BA)
4 OKAY O (old) KAT (rev yak, a beast of burden)
5 FRIGHTENED Formulaic charade of F (fine) RIGHT (immediate) + ins of E (Ecstasy drug) in END (death) which resulted in a nonsensical sentence that read so illogically.
6 DOWERS Ins of W (women) in doers (those acting)
7 THIRTYSOMETHING Beautiful annie clue *(no time thy girth’s) which I consider near to an &lit
12 TIMBERLINE Quite a clever cd for the threshold (on a mountain) beyond which trees are not sustainable
13 CAPITALLY cap-it-ally – Another formulaic charade but at least the surface here is smooth
15 BEGETTER Ins of EG (for example) in BETTER (superior)
18 deliberately omitted
21 PLEAT P (piano or quiet) (b) LEAT
22 AGUE A GUE (st)

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(FODDER) = anagram

28 comments on “Times 23,979 – Thirty Something”

  1. 17A is a poorish clue. AB=Able Bodied Seaman and the letters AB appear in c-AB-in.

    Another easy puzzle with fewer obscurities than yesterday. 20 minutes to solve. I think 2D is excellent but have this nagging feeling that I’ve seen it before. Anybody else recall it?

  2. I meant to add that at 19A for the benefit of overseas solvers, an Oxford is a type of shoe.
  3. I made rather heavier weather of this than I would have liked. The RH went in easily enough but I ground to a halt for a while before completing the LH with one wrong answer. I’ve never heard of DUNLIN so I guessed DUNNIS thinking the wordplay might be DUNNIS(h). Another guess, this time a correct one, was TIMBERLINE which was also news to me.

    I couldn’t work out the anagrist at 2dn but I’ve now read the explanation above. I suppose it’s fair enough if one admits that the beginning of a word is also its end.

    Last in was the ridiculously easy 4dn where I spent ages trying to think of a three letter beast of burden other than ass.

    Nearly an hour today, I’m afraid, with a few lapses of concentration on the commute to work.

    1. >”couldn’t work out the anagrist at 2dn but I’ve now read the explanation above. I suppose it’s fair enough if one admits that the beginning of a word is also its end.”

      Jack, It’s the M at the end of problem that indicates removal of the M from the anagrist so there’s no conflict as far as I can see.

    1. I’m with you on this. Cannot find any authoritative references to redtop as a synonym for a newspaper. I can see how it could originate, but suspect it is an internal Fleet-Streetery which had infected the compiler.
      1. I’ve certainly heard the word on TV, particularly on Newsnight or similar when they read out the next day’s headlines.

        I don’t have all my reference books to hand and the only explanation I can find on-line at the moment is in Wikipedia where they define it and suggest it is a comparatively recent word invented to distinguish between the old tabloids (Sun, Mirror etc now called Redtops)and the new ones (Times, Guardian etc).

        This makes sense but whether it should be in the puzzle if it’s not the any of the big three dictionaries is another matter. But as I say, I haven’t look it up yet. Perhaps someone will confirm when they have?

        1. Chambers gives REDTOP one word as a type of grass and RED-TOP as a tabloid noted for prurience.
        2. Collins does give REDTOP as a tabloid newspaper characterized by sensationalism

          Harry Shipley

          1. Thanks for confirming this, and to Jimbo. So there’s nothing to complain about then. If it’s in then it’s permissable and I think Peter maintains that there’s little point in worrying about hyphens or lack of them when it comes to Times crosswords.

          2. I have now checked my dictionaries which I think are all the latest edition. Chambers, as has been reported below, gives RED-TOP. My Collins has a hyphen too, so not as reported above. The Concise Oxford offers RED TOP, two words, no hyphen.

            I wonder which dictionaries rosselliott looked at, but possibly they were not recent editions. By all accounts the word seems to have been invented comparatively recently when the posher papers started to go tabloid.

    2. Its a common parlance among journalists and reviewers when looking at the papers…mirror and Sun..both have red tops etc
  4. Fared better today than yesterday, completing in 30 minutes without much difficulty apart from spending 2 or 3 minutes wondering what possible beast of burden was _A_ to complete 4, and another 2 or 3 minutes trying to remember the bird, DUN_I_, which I eventually got by seeing ‘line’ for ‘streak’.
    I thought some of the clues were dubious. I don’t think there’s any justification for having a verbal anagram indicator in the past tense (1d); a ‘ted’ was not a ‘rocker’, even an old one, so I don’t think 11a works; and having seen the explanation to ABLE SEAMAN, which I did not understand at the time, I’m not greatly impressed by that. Originally I didn’t like ‘deep’ in 22d since it’s completely superfluous cryptically, but I find it more acceptable on reflection because it does add something to the surface, and I suppose ST is at the bottom of GUEST in a down clue.
    To be positive, I quite liked 7, 9, 21 and 23, and ‘French art’ for ES is quite original (well, I’ve not seen it before).
    For those for whom it’s new, I’m pretty sure we’ve had RED-TOP here or in the Jumbo in the last 6 months. Incidentally, Chambers tells me the hyphen is necessary. REDTOP is a kind of grass.
    1. I think the ted/rocker thing is fine. They rocked around the clock, didn’t they? And later, in the 60s many Teddy Boys became “rockers” in the other sense of the word.
  5. Lived up to my bio today, botany not my strong point, and faced with coming up with a plausible anagram at 13, I opted for CALENDINES. DUNLIN and REDTOP were guesses from wordplay too. Oh well…
  6. 80 minutes here, somewhere above average for me. Most of that was spent in the bottom half of the puzzle, again. Perhaps my brain just gives up the ghost around that point? 17ac mystified me too, so thanks for the explanation dorsetjimbo. Got 2d from the checking letters – I was aware there was an anagram there somewhere, but just couldn’t get all the pieces. 9ac or 13ac possible CODs.
  7. Around 23 minutes.

    I’ve certainly heard redtop used to describe Sun/Mirror/Star.

    I found the construction of 21 & 24 a bit too similar – 5-letter words with substitution of the first letter – but there was some OK stuff in here, not least 2d which gets my COD nod.

  8. 21 minutes. I seem to be in a minority in having thoroughly enjoyed this one. Okay, there were a few debatable ones (which gives us something to debate) but I ticked more clues than in most recent puzzles, especially among the down clues.

    REDTOP is becoming quite commonplace – I’ve certainly heard it on tv dramas, so it’s not just journalistic jargon – but I winced on behalf of non-Brit solvers with that one.

    I loved that use of ‘French art’ at 2d, and the ETERNAL TRIANGLE is pretty sublime. BEGETTER is just one of those words that raises a smile. In fact, with a bit of begatting going on, and the verbal use of ‘art’, I’m sure this setter has been reading their King James version (and who would read any other?). I liked the wordplay in 21d and 22d, but my favourite was TIMBERLINE at 12d for its surface and its piquant punnery.

  9. Sun, Mirror and some other tabloids traditionally had their titles printed against a red background. Hence redtops. I must check and see if they still do. Not the Daily Mail however!
  10. I did this crossword this morning, while engaged in one of those very one-sided phone conversations that go: “I’m sorry, but all our advisors are still busy. Your call is still being held in a queue.” I crumpled the finished puzzle into a ball and hurled it at the wall, forgetting altogether to stop the stopwatch until right this minute, which makes my official time for this puzzle 4:05:31. Ah well.
  11. I liked this puzzle also, except for ‘redtop’, which I didn’t get; in fact, I couldn’t even come up with a decent guess. The rest of it took about 35 minutes. So I am stumped today, as I was yesterday, by some Britcentric usage. Better luck tomorrow for me, regards to all of you.
  12. I made it home at the weekend but then had an unplanned return to hospital for a couple of days – now resolved with some more drugs than prescribed at first. The surgery was on my brain, to remove a supsected small tumour, and I’m finding out how much the knowledge that your brain has been fiddled with can do to your solving confidence. I’ve already told the surgeon that if you took 8 Times Crossword Champions and opened up all their heads but only did anything significant to half of them and just stitched the others back up, no-one would have a clue which four were which. I say “opened up” – I have the subtlest stich you can imagine – just under 3 inches long behind my left ear, and hardly any hair shaved off – so people who saw me at the weekend were thinking it had been postponed. Today’s puzzle (14:51) was one of my best couple of efforts so far – the Thursday after the op I managed about 9 munutes but other Times puzzles have been pretty slow and a couple in the forties.

    Redtop: as Sotira says – and I have to admit this was my last answer, using the last couple of minutes for an alphabet tour. I did well with the top half, probably done in four mins or so except 4D which came later. In the bottom half, 23A should have been easier than it was, and it took a while to see the wordplay for EYEBRIGHT and PLEAT. Must admit to writing DOWERS without understanding wordplay.

    Dyste’s coment about not seeing ES=French art: what a tribute to the restraint of Times setters! – this used to be a classic crossword cliché.

    1. Yep, knew it: head drilled one week, back beating everyone the next. Welcome back, Peter.
  13. Fairly plain sailing, 24mins but didn’t get 20A.

    I had never heard of “redtop” and even the alphabetical tour didn’t help. One pedantic quibble – “we hear” denotes a homophone; “red” sounds like “read” (OK), but “top” meaning “first” is the actual word, not a homophone.

    By the way, if you haven’t read “The Woman in White”, do so – absorbing and rather unsettling.

Comments are closed.