Times 24040. Oh, so that means that!

Solving time : 13 minutes.

I liked this puzzle a lot, there were some clever usages of the unfamiliar meanings of words, backed up with some very fair wordplay. I thought this was going to take a long time, but when I saw a few of the long ones on a second read through, things dropped into place nicely.

1 THE,AFRICAN,QUEEN: Maybe chestnutty, I didn’t spot it until I had the Q from 6 down
9 MISCREANT: (RACES)* in MINT(=making lots of money). This is the sort of wordplay that gets me excited, nice constructions
11 TINT,IN: When I was learning French (in Australia) we were encouraged to read Tintin and Asterix, which were easily available in French. I liked Asterix better
12 PALL MALL: As well as a street in Monopoly it’s a precursor to croquet
15 SLIPPERS: L in SIPPERS. A guess from wordplay, not only does it mean the footwear, it means to beat someone with them.
18 AGRARIAN: AGRA, then (N,AIR)<= – a Mephisto standard
19 ERAS(=times),ED: easy clue, nice surface
26 BR,ILL: a fish related to the turbot. Not the most attractive fish in the world
27 DERISIBLE: (lies,bride) – formed from the word “deride”. I looked that up because I was wondering if it was the same root as “risible”
1 TEMPTER: TEMP then (RE,T)<=
3 FOREIGNER: REIGN(=rule),E in FOR – another nice construction
4 I S(l)AY. It’s an island as well as a whiskey?
5 A,C,TU,ALLY: nifty
7 END PAPERS: (RE-APPENDS)* – guessed from wordplay, it is paper pasted to the binding of a book to give an additional flyleaf
16 PARKINSON: KIN in PARSON – I’m guessing this is referring to C. Northcote Parkinson of Parkinson’s Law fame.
17 LAH-DI-DAH: L(andlord) and then DID in HA-HA reversed. I hadn’t run across a HA-HA (a ditch containing a fence) until reading Stephen Fry’s “The Hippopotamus” a few years ago
20 DITHERY: THE instead of A in DIARY
22 SI(=IS<=),LAS(s)
24 OX(=steer),BOW(=bend): Liked this a lot, in Australia, an Ox-bow is a small lake formed from a bend in a river becoming pierced

36 comments on “Times 24040. Oh, so that means that!”

  1. 22 min yet again, but no need to use any aids. I thought at one stage that I was heading for a personal best, but got mired by a few sneaky (but highly appreciated) ones. Last to go: 9 Ac, 3 Dn, and 18 Ac (COD for me). As for 26 Ac, not a beauty to the eye, but very easy on the palate!
  2. I don’t normally time myself – partly for the same reasons sotira expressed recently, and partly because I don’t usually have an undisturbed time in which to do it – but today was 24 min with a sandwich for luch.

    Some nice words today. I have always known HA HA as a curiosity, but only ever come across it literature in Mansfield Park last year.

    28A is such a nice anagram it must have appeared before.

    RANT WARNING I did not like TEMPTER = Siren at 1D. For me a Siren is exclusively female, and should therefore be a “temptress”. This seems to be part of the PC movement in language which avoids words like actress and waitress (and risks losing lovely words like aviatrix, executrix and even gladiatrix) in favour of the male equivalent. I have no doubt that someone will show me that a Siren can be male (or a tempter female) and that I risk offending female posters – no offence is intended – but I can’t help myself!

    1. I agree entirely with your point about siren = temptress, kurihan. The male siren has not found its way into any of The Books, unless it’s in the very latest Chambers, so one assumes this is another actor/actress thing. Also a ha-ha consists of a ditch and a retaining wall so I’m not sure quite how “fence” comes into the picture except perhaps in the very broadest meaning of the word.

      Having said that, this was a delightful puzzle that took me 27 minutes at a steady pace with no long gaps in the solving process. I hadn’t met NONPLUS as a noun before and SLIPPERS as a verb caught me out for a moment.

      1. Thanks Jack, I’m glad I’m not alone in that! I checked ha-ha in the OED; as well as the description you mention, it refers secondarily to “a sunken fence”, as do a number of the citations, but exactly what that means is not quite clear to me.
        1. Interesting, kurihan. The latest Concise OED specifically states “a ditch with a wall” with no reference anywhere to a fence, so that must be a secondary meaning that wasn’t considered important enough to make it to the shorter version.
    2. A number of dictionaries give “anything tempting or alluring” for siren, which justifies the clue, though it’s unusual to see an inanimate usage like this.

      Re. timing, you must be thinking of someone else, Kurihan, since I invariably time myself.

      1. Sorry. The brain cells are dying so fast these days – I can’t remember what I had for breakfast.
      2. I didn’t think it was so unusual. From the surface of the clue you can read siren as in ‘siren call’ (neuter). Something tempting, but possibly dangerous. E.g. the siren call of the sea.
  3. The idea of a ha-ha came about because 18th century landscape gardners wanted to give an unbounded view from the stately homes of their patrons. You still had to have a boundary to keep the riff-raff out of course, so a ditch was dug and a wall put in it. You came across it at the last minute, and it surprised you. Hence ‘ha ha’.

    Just my $0.02 worth. 🙂

  4. 12:30

    A few little quibbles – the ‘See’ in 6d; the incompatibility of the possessive and the ‘after’ in 26a; the umpteenth appearance of ESSEN.

    But all sins forgiven aboard the African Queen. There’s a lovely symmetry about that and Hemingway in the two long acrosses, with connections abounding between the movie, Bogart, Hemingway, the screenwriter Peter Viertel, John Huston… it goes on and on. There’s a nice appreciation of parallels between EH and HB here: http://www.vqronline.org/articles/1996/summer/meyers-bogart-hemingway/

    Another case of ‘They don’t make ’em like that any more’:

    Charlie: A man takes a drop too much once in a while, it’s only human nature.
    Rose: Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.

    Q-1 (two halves), E-9, D-5 .. COD – MISCREANT

    1. I don’t think there’s any incompatibility. “Brother’s sick after” = “Brother has sick after”.
      ‘After’ is redundant cryptically, but not incompatible.

      Dyste (I’m logged on as anon because I have a new computer so my password is not saved and I’ve forgotten it)

      1. I’m pretty sure the apostrophe+s is only used as an abbr. for ‘has’ where ‘has’ is an auxilliary verb, not the main verb ‘to possess”. The possessive apostrophe+s is from the OE ‘-es’ genitive case ending.
  5. For a while I thought this was going to be a super-fast run, but a collection of answers in the west half joined forces to almost defeat me; 3, 11, 13 and 14 – none of these should have held me up as much as they did and indeed I stared at the possibility of PARTITION at 14 without committing to it, unable at first to unravel the wordplay. This troublesome quad added around 5 minutes to the solve.

    COD was going to be 9 but for its smoothness and the fact that it fooled me for a long time I’ll go for 3.

    Q-0 E-7 D-8, Time 14 minutes, COD 3 FOREIGNER

  6. I agree it was an enjoyable puzzle. I wasn’t all that keen on 9. I thought of MISCREANT when I had the M and seeing the anagram fodder in RACES, but I didn’t enter it until the end since I don’t see a ‘miscreant as necessarily a fraudster, and the question mark didn’t do enough to reassure me. I also thought of TEMPTER immediately I saw the clue and didn’t enter that immediately for reasons given above. My last quibble concerns 23. Isn’t ‘go’ doing double duty?
    Like Anax, I had PARTITION as a possibility for 14 but didn’t see why initially.
    The neatest clue for me was 20.

    (I’m logged on as anon because I have a new computer so my password is not saved and I’ve forgotten it. Can anyone tell me a way to retrieve it?)

    1. Good point. The wordplay “Place in which I go…” is incomplete – properly, “Place in which I go is/are…” would be grammatically correct. Make my Q-0 a Q-1.
    2. >…my password …I’ve forgotten it. Can anyone tell me a way to retrieve it?

      From the computer world or from the darkest recesses of your brain?

  7. There is yet another example beside Ha Ha Road near Woolwich barracks a ditch and some iron railings if memory serves. Kind of unhappy about Nonplus as a noun; can’t seem to work that into a sentence.
  8. Like Anax and Dyste I had to work out partition before putting it in and tempter/repent also took a bit of time.Could have been very fast time otherwise.
    Note the Bogart etc connection between 1a and 28 but maybe “A farewell to arms” or “the sun also rises” would have given an added touch?
    I recall a similar lah-di-dah clue so was able to recognise this quickly. Good puzzle. 10.38 today
    1. Agreed. I was hoping to see a theme evolve and was wondering about The Old Man and The Sea – a role Bogart desperately wanted – but that initial ‘The’ in the title scuppers it for word length.
  9. 27:30. Don’t you just hate those puzzles when 1 across goes in straight away and you think you’re headed for a superfast time but then you get bogged down?

    Foreigner/repent/agrarian/partition held me up for a good 12 minutes at the end.

    I’ve come across two real life ha-has recently. There’s one at the entrance to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park which is being renovated – it has a bridge across it:

    I came across another in the Grounds of Bramham Park in West Yorks. Way back in the dim and distant past I had an annual based on the TV series “How?”. One of the ‘hows’ in it was “How is a ha-ha an invisible barrier?” According to Fred Dineage, at least, they’re for keeping cattle rather than riff-raff off your begonias.

    Q-0, E-7, D-7, COD 28

    1. Completely off-topic, but today was an amusing instance of the same word (NONPLUS) popping up in the Times and Guardian crossword (I’m finding I can usually finish or almost finish the Guardian at the coffee stand on the way to work).

      The Guardian uses a cheesy definition, but is a nice reference clue…

      12’s (MINUS) state of perplexity (7)

  10. 13.37. Yet again I put in a wrong answer and this one probably cost 5 minutes. This time it was ELBOW for OXBOW. Well, I thought, an elbow has a bend, doesn’t it? And the lake must be the L. Leaving E_BOW, which must mean something or other, after all it’s in the title of a song by REM. (It’s an electromagnetic field-generating device that induces sustained vibration in an electric guitar string. I checked.)

    Anyway, that left me with _I_ E_T for the feast at 23ac, and trying to justify the unlikely BIG EAT.

  11. Regards all. Fast for me at first, in that I finished in 10 minutes but had included the same erroneous ‘ELBOW’ and ‘BIG EAT'(!?!) that Sabine mentions above. These left me wondering, and it wasn’t for another hour and a half or so that I returned to it, saw the real answers, and corrected these. So, overall, 10 minutes plus a good 90 minutes to think of the actual answers. See you tomorrow.
  12. Nice write-up George.

    30 mins for me, but stupidly put ‘wall ball’ for ‘pall mall’ – an instance of crossword moral cowardice.

    Parkinson’s law (Gasser’s decree?) – almost as irresistable as the Peter Principle…

    1. Thanks – catch me on Times every other Thursday, Mephisto every fourth Sunday and Listener, whether I finish it or not, at the other blog.
  13. I also had elbow written in but was able to change reasonably quickly when it appeared that ‘I go’ had to go in 23, also oxbow lakes are one of the things that stick from secondary school geography a (good) few years ago.
    1. I’m pretty sure I could still draw an annotated diagram showing before, during and after the formation of an oxbow lake.

      At least it came in useful eventually.

  14. this was my COD…very fine clue with miscreant second…
    to be pedantic (wrongly) isnt ox-bow hyphenated…apaprently not…and i too was foxed for a moment ofver siren being feminine…but ultimately plumped for the male or neuter version

    Nice puzzle..ernest hemingway was a super anagram

  15. I believe the ha ha evolved on the battle field, as a hidden ditch containing a row of impaling spikes, so who would get the last laugh, the impaler or the impalee?
  16. Nobody seems to have commented on the wordplay of 8dn, so I must be failing to see something obvious. I can’t make it work: it seems to be ‘State of confusion’: def; ‘among’ ???; ‘students’ is presumably NUS, ‘place’ is PL, so students about place is PL in NUS, and ON gets in there somehow.

    How does it all hang together?

    1. I read it as …

      N(ON,PL)US – [‘about’=on + pl.] all among the NUS

      But the syntax is a bit torturous.

  17. No fence in the Haha – that’s the whole point of it. To keep the cattle and/or deer off your lawn in a country estate without spoiling the view. We had one at the top of the lawn in rural Herefordshire when I were a lad. It is still there – I just don’t live there any more.

    There are 9 “easies” including the answer to someone’s question a mere 10 years late:

    10a At top class university study British-born writer (5)
    A U DEN. The “British-born” is superfluous.

    13a Regret about getting imprisoned (6)

    21a Offhand, arrogant manner: one’s less familiar aspect (4,4)

    28a In West Germany he flourished as a writer (6,9)
    ERNEST HEMINGWAY. Anagram of (in West Germany he) – very good indeed.

    2d City showing some business enterprise (5)
    ESSEN. Hidden in last 2 words.

    6d See little bird recoil with fear (5)

    14d One piece of advice about framing painting on wall (9)
    P ART IT I ON. 1 TIP backwards around ART then ON.

    18d Friendly with a female leading to romance (7)

    25d Performs regularly in Albert Hall concert (4)
    PROM. P e R f O r M s.

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