Times 23,984

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time : 20 minutes, most of which was spent rounding up a small number of recalcitrant answers in 9 ac, 22 ac and 27 ac. I got off to a flying start down the left hand side before realising this was trickier than I first thought; and if I’d been forced to hand in my paper without the luxury of checking on the internet, I wouldn’t have been 100% certain that my deductions from wordplay were entirely correct.

1 DRAGOMAN – a DRAG who is all woman, i.e.0 MAN. Since the overthrow of the Ottoman empire, an office gone the same way as the Grand Vizier.
9 ESPALIER – curse you, botany! I inside (RELAPSE)rev gives one of those gardening terms that are doubtless commonplace in some households, but which was new to me.
10 JUST SO – as in the work by Mr Kipling, who wrote exceedingly popular stories.
12 INCA – sounds like INKER, presumably; though to my mind it seems a bit of a leap to go from (ink) pad to inker, which appears to be more usually the person doing the inking than the item they might use.
13 TELEGRAPHS – a nice mention of a broadsheet rival, (THEPAGES + L + R)*
16 CANDOUR – “CAN DO” + UR, which crops up an awful lot in these pages.
17 POSTERN – POSTER + N(ame); the postern was a secondary way into a castle or other fortification
22 RAPE – this was new to me as well; I imagine solvers’ familiarity with this old sub-division of a county will vary acording to their knowledge of Sussex. A quick Google reveals they date back to 1066 and all that.
26 ENTRANCE – double def., the “seventeen” in the online version should, of course, be “17”
27 DEHISCED – another not entirely common word: HIS + C(aught) in DEED, from the Latin dehisco, derivation fans.
2 ROUMANIA – (ARMOUR IN A)* – apparently this is the French spelling which held sway before RUMANIA, itself succeeded by ROMANIA.
4 MOONSTRUCK – MOONS + TRUCK, lunatic, of course, having a very literal connection with the moon. I shall leave an explanation of the cultural significance of the other sort of mooning to others
6 EPEE – pErPlExEd gives the Olympic fencing event. Sadly I am in the wrong time zone to be seeing most of these things live this time round. Still, I guess I can make up for it in 2012
14 GOOSEFLESH – GOOSE (as described here, from the days before steam)=iron, + (SELF)rev + H(ard)
15 AFTER HOURS – (OURFATHERS)*, though the days of reformed licensing laws and shopping hours means there isn’t so much after hours as there used to be
19 ABJURED – JUR(y) inside A BED
21 WAPITI – A PIT inside WI(sconsin), also known as the elk
24 ULNA – fo(UL NA)ture gives the bone of the arm; but does “one in arms” really do service as a definition, I wonder?

33 comments on “Times 23,984”

  1. Strangely, I spotted “espalier” immediately from “train a plant” but it was last to go in as I didn’t click on “relapse” until right at the end. 11ac is my COD.
  2. 30 minutes to three missing answers and they just wouldn’t come. Of the ones that beat me ESPALIER and ABJURED might be understandable but I’ve no idea why ENTRANCE eluded me particularly as I already had POSTERN, the cross-reference at 17, and all the checking letters in place having assumed that 19 would probably end with ED.

    Also I wasn’t able to explain 14 (having read the blog I remember coming across goose-iron before), or 22. I guessed DRAGOMAN and DEHISCED from the wordplay.

    4 is my COD

  3. I was a long time getting into this but finished in about 35 minutes. No real problems although I’ve not come across that meaning of “rape” before. Liked 4d.
  4. An afterthought (we Kiwis are ahead in hours but behind in years). English is famous for absorbing and promoting neologisms. Surely there should be a reverse process whereby words which have vanishing currency or relevance are no longer acceptable. Has anyone out there ever used the word “dehisced”
    1. I did Biology A-Level in 1970, and, I think through that, came across dehiscence. I think of it as being when a seed is thrown out when its case bursts. I don’t know if it’s still used, but I’d guess so.

      Steve W

      1. I’ve used it in science teaching, but more in a “hey look at these odd words starting with ‘de'”, like desiccate and deliquesce
        1. With some embarrassment I will admit to using “dessicate” and “deliquesce” frequently while studying chemistry an uni in the 70s.
  5. A better puzzle than yesterday (about 30 minutes to solve) but still with some obscurities. Everything else can be worked out from wordplay or definition except RAPE=a division of Sussex. I happen to know it (probably from bar crosswords) but I feel for those to whom it is new. The word “inker” is in the dictionary as = a pad for inking. Is the word “in” fulfiling any purpose in 7D?
  6. The curse of solving first thing rather than leaving it until lunch – took around 20 minutes on this but feel sure I could have done better, especially given the generous ‘gram count.
    Several COD choices; 11, 13, 20, 4, 15, but my nom is 23. Surface reading isn’t 100% but it needed some thinking to spot the wordplay. Big self-kick when the light dawned, and it was the one that caused the most delay for me.
  7. A fast 40 minutes here, with the LHS falling first and the NE corner last, EPEE causing me a few inexplicable problems. A very nice crossword, I thought, lots of good surface readings – 12ac/17ac/8d/15d/21d/24d all stood out for me.
  8. About an hour for me but a couple wrong. I guessed “dehesced” although I can now see that “dehisced” would be much more likely even if you’ve never heard of the word. And I got “dragamon” on some spurious basis I now forget.
  9. Slow on the top half with the unfamiliar dragoman as well as noblewomen and netball (took ages to work out the wordplay)taking some time.Regarding the point about use of obscure or obsolete words – I really don’t mind – some days we get it easy , some days there are a few stinkers. Keeps it all interesting
    17.15 today.
  10. 28 minutes. Good puzzle. I just never got going on it. The obvious suspects mentioned above all caused me trouble.
  11. 30 minutes and gak – one mistake. Wasn’t familiar with either sort of RAPE so I guessed RIPA which sounded like a flowing plant or an annoying daytime talk-show host. I found this pretty tricky and was sitting for a while with 1, 5 and 9 unfilled… took all sorts of variations on —BALL before I filled them in with correct guesses.
  12. 13.03. Tied myself in a knot in the NE corner by putting in ESCALIER at first – I was almost sure it meant something, which it does. Even when I’d remembered the word ESPALIER I was confounded by the wordplay because I was seeing “I fail” as “I lapse”. I think I was quite lucky otherwise in that I knew the more obscure words.
    1. Struggled with this. Top half went in quickly, except dragoman which I guessed. There were just too many unknown words in the bottom half for me – rape, wapiti, goose, ulna – and I lost patience with quite a few blanks remaining.


  13. Made a few guesses here at ‘dragoman’, ‘dehisced’, ‘espalier’, and they were right, but I came to grief, I see here, with my guess for 22A, ‘rype’, which apparently doesn’t exist. I had spent about 20 minutes on most of this last night, and had set it aside missing 1, 9, 11, 6, 7; filled those in this morning. Maybe 40 minutes altogether, with the one error, for which I’ve already forgiven myself, never having heard of the rape plant or Sussex subdivision. See you tomorrow.
  14. Paulww makes a point – a good one – of giving a difficulty rating in blogs. It spurred me into thinking of a set of vital statistics which I guess anyone could add, and I’ve called it QED:
    Q = Number of “questionable” clues which, for whatever reason, the writer thinks are less than satisfactory; technically unsound, overly osbcure, whatever.
    E = A score out of 10 for entertainment value.
    D = A score out of 10 to represent difficulty level.

    So my offering for today is Q-2 E-6 D-5

    Any takers?

    1. An interesting idea, Anax, but surely it’s too subjective to have much, if any, meaning?

      For example I was thoroughly entertained by yesterday’s puzzle and scored a personal best (at least since I started timing myself) and despite several words I might have considered obscure being included, I didn’t have any objections to any of it. But others thought differently. I’ve no idea how one rates difficulty.

  15. I agree entirely, but it might be a nice summary of a solver’s personal experience of a puzzle. For example, my rating doesn’t state which two clues I put in the Q category (for the record, 1A and 24D) and everyone will have different ideas about what they enjoyed/didn’t in a puzzle.
  16. Well here I am again in an odd situation. Got the clues others found hard 1A,9A,22A,27A, but can’t get 18D.Help please
    1. It’s slightly convoluted but basically sound – REPAIR minus I (one short, mend) + TEE (support = the golfing one).
        1. Blast it! I had “art” but was trying to work out if there was an actor called MARTEN – the actual answer is so much more obvious.

          Wonder if the great man ever got teased about his name then?

    2. Hi Paul

      Blimey – that’s a clue. You do realise I’ll be up all night trying to fathom it now…

  17. 12:17 for this – managed to avoid getting seriously stuck anywhere, though there were a few I felt I should have solved faster.

  18. Suddenly I discover I’m anon on my home PC! No idea why. Anyway, the above was my contribution on the subject.
  19. About 30 mins. 19D took a while, as did 11A for some reason (blew = screwed up?). Managed to dredge up “dragoman” and “wapiti” from the memory banks (although I wasn’t sure what they meant. 27A came last – spent too long working at “he’s” for “man’s” instead of “his”. Complete blind spot!

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