Times 24883 – Another Day in the Office

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I didn’t quite enjoy today’s puzzle .. the clues seemed very pedestrian and well below the standard I would expect from a Times crossword
Postscript : Sorry I wasn’t able to be around my computer after posting the blog. I have made the necessary amendments below thanks to those who contributed to my further edification. No, I wasn’t grumpy ; somehow this puzzle did not appeal to me. After all, we can’t all be liking the same thing, can we?

6 GRASP G (good) RASP (tool)
9 CORSAIR Lovely definition “main villain” but the wordplay (thanks to ulaca) is the ins of R (right) SA (sex appeal) in COIR (material for rope)
10 RATIONS ORATIONS (addresses) minus O
11 SMART dd
12 NAIL PUNCH Ins of A in NIL (nothing) + PUNCH (a hot drink?) In all the parties I have attended, the punch is usually cold or am I reading this wrong? “hot” being popular?
13 MILES Here again, I am stumped but thanks to Kevingregg, Miles Coverdale (or Myles) was a translator of the Bible, who published the first printed English translation in the mid-16th century.
14 IRON CROSS “I, RONald Reagan, President of the USA, am CROSS” Probably the only gem in today’s awful set of clues
17 MONTAIGNE *(MEANING TO) Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533 – 1592) was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, known for popularising the essay as a literary genre and is popularly thought of as the father of Modern Skepticism.
18 MITRE Ins of R (rook) in MITE (sounds like MIGHT, power) pointed headdress, cleft crosswise on top and with two ribbons hanging from the back, worn by archbishops and bishops, and by some abbots in the Western Church; What a terrible clue!
19 EARTHLING Ins of L (first letter of Look) in EARTHING (reducing electrical shocking risks)
22 OBEYS Ins of BEY (governor) in OS (outsize)
24 SUBSOIL SUBS (boats) OIL (fuel)
26 TENSE TEN’S (a column of numbers) E (last letter of ninE)
27 THE WARDEN T (time) HEW (cut) ARDEN (forest) The Warden is the first novel in Anthony Trollope’s series known as the “Chronicles of Barsetshire”, published in 1855

1 INCUS Ins of C (first letter of court) in IN US (across the pond)
2 TARPAULIN *(ART LINUs APpeared) don’t quite like this clue at all. How did the crossword editor pass this? Thanks to ulaca *(art) + Linus PAULINg, a scientist
3 ANASTASIA A horrible part of the world is A NASTY ASIA minus Y (year)
4 SHRINKING VIOLET *(IN SILK OVERNIGHT) a shy hesitant person
6 GET UP dd get up to rise, esp from bed; to ascend; to arrange, dress, prepare (oneself); to learn up for an occasion; to commit to memory.
7 ACORN Ins of COR (interjection like MY) in AN (indefinite article)
8 POSTHASTE POST (job) + ins of S (son) in HATE (strong feeling)
13 MUMMERSET Cha of MUMMER (an actor in a folk play) SET (where he’s filming) for an imitation West Country accent used by actors.
15 COMMON ERA COMMONER (no peer) A (ace)
20 ROBIN ROBING (dressing) minus G
21 HOOKE Ins of OK (fine) in HOE (weed or gardening task)
23 SUDAN Ins of DA (District Attorney or lawyer) in the paper with the Page Three girls

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

52 comments on “Times 24883 – Another Day in the Office”

  1. 36:11, again online because I couldn’t get to a printer. I think if I had had the leisure to think about the clues, I might tend toward Uncle Yap’s assessment, although I didn’t think they were THAT bad. Miles Coverdale (or Myles) was a translator of the Bible, who published the first printed English translation in the mid-16th century.
  2. Pauling, Hooke, and aneroid; a comparative plethora of science. And taking a look at the puzzle, I think UY may be being a bit harsh: 2d for starters, is clever, and I liked 4d and 8d, and 27ac. ‘Mummerset’ was new to me; it was one of those that Keriothe has mentioned, where the pleasure comes from knowing you’re right even though you’ve never seen the word.
  3. 36 minutes, though I’ll admit to using my phone-a-friend option for the parsing of MILES, whom I have always known as Myles. Still, if you check his spelling generally, even he probably varied his own name. He’d never have been allowed a credit card!
    Sorry Uncle Y. but I can’t share your dismal assessment. There’s much to enjoy here. For example, my COD (and Economy of the Year Award): 16dn. And the sci-mob will have liked HOOKE and PAULIN{g} to balance the Trollope and MONTAIGNE.
    Even mixing homophone with insertion in 18ac was fine by me: the distraction of assuming R (rook) for B (bishop) to be a substitution was nicely done, IMHO. As the bra said to the top hat: you go on ahead; I’ll give these two a lift.
  4. At 2dn, the reference is to Linus Pauling, the American scientist. 9ac is parsed as R (right) + SA ([sex] appeal) in COIR (rope).
    1. … rather “rope potentially” because you can make other stuff with coir.
      1. Indeed, McT. I was going by memory rather than scanning the clue when I wrote.
  5. I have to disagree with Uncle Yap. I thought this a creative and amusing puzzle that rewarded careful plotting of the clues. MILES was excellent – I noticed the ‘Coverdale’ early on, but it helped me not a whit at that point. Even when I had ‘miles’ for ‘a long way’, I still shied away from entering it because I could’t think beyond ‘Zummerset’ or ‘Summerset’ for 13dn – eventually my last in on the assumption that a ‘mummer’ must be some kind of actor.

    Lots of good stuff, but COD to POSTHASTE for the smooth and deceptive surface. 53 minutes total, with ten of those on the last two. I recently read Montaigne in translation. Top stuff.

  6. Considering the number of unknowns (to me) in this one I am surprised I solved it all correctly and without aids in 30 minutes, so whatever one’s opinion of the quality of the clues they surely were remarkably fair. But actually I thought they were fine.

    However if I’d been blogging I’d have been as stumped as UY by 13ac.

    1. It’s just occurred to me that we had an example of “Mummerset” at 13ac on Tuesday.

      The word has been around a long time.

    2. Did this on the Friday having been away all day Thursday on the golf course

      Can’t quite see what all the fuss is about. Seems like a standard Times puzzle to me if anything on the easy side of average.

      Agree “hot” is superflous in 12A but I’ve drunk hot punch so no great problem. Thought the “cover-dale” device rather weak. If you know the guy the solution leaps off the page. If you don’t (like me) you get it from definition + checkers. Same probably holds true for Linus Pauling – though I knew that one.

      Not a puzzle to particularly remember for any reason.

  7. I rather enjoyed this one, though (because) I went the wrong way several times before adjusting: a solvable maze. 38 minutes. Several neat misdirections, as in express, 8.
  8. Couldn’t even cheat my way to MUMMERSET so DNF. Took me an age to lift and separate “Express strong feeling” so it gets my COD. No less than 6 of my answers marked to refer to UY. 27 was a bit of a gift as having broken my Trollope duck a month ago my latest project is to trawl the Barsetshire books and finished The Warden just last week.
  9. Marmite indeed! I was expecting to come here this morning and share in the buzz of a brilliant exercise in clue setting. 28 minutes for me, which suggests a proper test. The VIOLET was one of the best concealed anagrams I’ve seen in a long time – I so expected it to be Latin for silkworm. TARPAULIN was almost a giveaway if you knew the relevant Linus – but then a lot of this one gave us credit for knowing stuff across a wide range of GK. HOOKE’s in my limited pantheon of known physicists
    MILES was my first in – one of my bits of more ready knowledge, but I was getting desperate when I got there.
    IRON CROSS was a laugh out loud, as was EARTHLING (what a fine definition!), and TURN (though I first essayed spin) IN ONES GRAVE raised a smile. Potential rope=COIR was a beauty.
    I’m surprised at the blank looks around MUMMERSET, but I thought the cryptic was generous enough. I didn’t know THE WARDEN as a novel, but again the cryptic, with a smashing surface, was kind.
    TENSE took me back to old school arithmetic – do they still do tens and units? – and sums written in pencil.
    Sorry guys and gals, (and Uncle Yap) but for me this was one of the best of the year, with every clue a delight. Respect to setter.
    1. Yes, it was darned good, I agree. But you sound a bit like the Pollyanna we have come to expect from some.
      Ditto ”with a smashing surface”.
      Over-compensation perhaps?

      Edited at 2011-06-23 09:23 am (UTC)

      1. Over-compensation? Possibly, but I really did come onboard today buzzing with enthusiasm and thought I’d got the wrong day when I read “very pedestrian and well below the standard”. I don’t mind saying when I think a puzzle is dire, but I really did think this was a good’n, and while I’ll allow that it’s possible my enthusiasm for the clues grew as I worked through them, there has to be something good in there to have that kind of cumulative effect.
    2. It’s interesting how very different our reactions can be to the same clues. I saw the long anagram at 4dn immediately, so rather dismissed it at the time. The word “Telegraph” may even have crossed my mind. Looking at it now it’s a rather fine anagram. IRON CROSS made me groan. I thought “a column of numbers” for TENS was a little shoddy.
      So yes, definitely Marmite. Although come to think of it I think Marmite’s OK but I can take it or leave it.
  10. 26 minutes, interrupted by a phone call.
    We appear to have something of a Marmite puzzle here. I’m largely with Uncle Yap I’m afraid. Most of it was very easy, and the rest had a distinctly odd flavour that was not to my taste.
    For instance I thought the device in 13ac (“Cover dale together”) was downright weird. I was also puzzled by “hot” in 12ac. And for me MUMMERSET was not one of those pleasurable clues because I was pretty sure it must be wrong as it went in. However it was the best I could come up with (fits the checkers, sounds like zummerzet, this is my stop…) so in it went. MUMMER and MUMMERSET were both unknown to me – no doubt they are common knowledge to 80% of the populace.
    Objectively not much wrong with it I must admit. Just a matter of taste I suppose. And I agree with joekobi that 8dn POSTHASTE was very good.
  11. I’m definitely with the enthusiasts for this crossword. Lots of good things. Some science to keep jimbo happy; some literature (not too way out – i.e. I knew the references); and a bit of history to boot with Miles Coverdale. Intersting devices, too, notably ‘Cover dale together’. Thank you, setter.

    About 40 minutes overall, with OBEYS (perhaps one of the easier clues) my last in: it took ages for the penny to drop both on the meaning of ‘follows’ and the ‘governor’ involved.

  12. In the interests of full disclosure, I like Marmite. I also had no problems with this puzzle, either literally (14:03) or temperamentally. This may be not unconnected with the fact that I was lucky enough to have all today’s required knowledge fall within my grasp. O-level physics was good enough to remember HOOKE, years of listening to The Archers have given me wide experience of Mummerset, and there weren’t any plants to trip me up.
      1. Never come across that before – looks as if Archers parodies are almost as old as the series (me old pal, me old beauty)…
  13. 38:26 – I’m on the positive side for this one. I rather enjoyed it.

    There were a couple of unknown words for me – MONTAIGNE & MUMMERSET, and a few unfamiliar like ANEROID, INCUS & THE WARDEN, not to mention Miles Coverdale (I had him down as a jazz musician of some kind). But they were all deducible from the wordplay. I particularly liked the two long down clues at 4 & 5. But my COD to 8 for the well-disguised definition.

    1. It occurred to me that Montaigne’s motto is appropriate for all of us solvers: Que sais-je?
  14. 19 minutes, in a spate of catching up with all of this week’s puzzles in one sitting. MILES from definition, THE WARDEN and MUMMERSET from wordplay.
  15. Is Archers parody necessary? Surely like a parody of Nigella Lawson it’s indistinguishable from the original.
  16. Didn’t see anything very cross-making today. Unusual to see Uncle Y so grumpy: hope you feel better tomorrow.
  17. I thought there were a lot of fun clues in this. I was pleased to know all the GK required. No problem with Coverdale, Pauling and Hooke. No major hold-ups but it wasn’t a fast solve. Over 30 minutes – I forgot to time it. I was surprised that the blogger found so little to like.
  18. As one who has complained in the past about the lack of scientific content in the Times crossword, I must say I enjoyed this. I did not understand 13ac till I read the comments here. Got lucky with 2dn, as Pauling was the only Linus I knew apart from the one who used to appear in the Peanuts cartoon and whose surname I don’t know.


    1. Linus van Pelt was the nearest I got to an alter ego in Peanuts, when I wasn’t being Snoopy. Sadly, Ratvanpel isn’t a real word.
      1. Ah Van Pelt! Maybe I should file that away somewhere in case in need another Linus in the future. By the way, I am sure you’ve beeen asked this before, but is that z8b8d8k, as in “kara ka kora ka karakak”?
        1. It sure is. It’s the nearest I can get on this site to anything vaguely recognisable. Given the number of possible spellings of Zabadak (the way they spelled it), I’m amazed a) they’re all taken and b) I’ve never met any of them. But I did get to see DDDBMT about 6 months before Dave Dee deceased. Magic.
  19. If I may, a couple more observations
    GET UP is surely the noun version, an outfit, which fits “costume” better than getting up and dressing. If it were the main definition, I suppose it would have to be indicated as (3-2), but it doesn’t need to be.
    And whether punch is hot or not probably depends on where in the world you are and at what time of year. Try this for two authentic Dickensian versions of the hot variety.
  20. I do not agree with the criticisms of this puzzle, which seemed very much on a par with normal high standard of the Times puzzle, with some quite subtle, misleading definitions eg for EARTHLING and ANASTASIA. I’ve never had punch was not, or at least meant to be, hot. Did not understand the wordplay of MILES and TARPAULIN till coming here, but the answers were clear enough from the definitions. A little on the easy side, but I think the paper, rightly, varies the difficulty level of the puzzle from day to day. I also agree with z8b8d8k regarding how GET UP worked.
    1. I’m puzzled by your comment about punch. I have seen punch served hundreds of times in my life (and even on occasion drunk it, although generally not if there is anything else on offer!) and I can honestly say that I have never come across a hot one. Mulled wine, gluwein or whatever, yes, but in my experience drinks like this are never called punch. Cocktails like planter’s punch, rum punch etc are also cold. I’d be interested in others’ experience of this.
      Particularly as “hot” is not necessary to the clue, my particular experience meant that for me this was a bit like describing tea as a cold drink.
      More generally on the puzzle it seems that the overwhelming consensus is that this was a good’un so I will just put my own experience down to a lack of sleep!
      1. I am married to a Scandanavian, and around the holidays they serve glogg, hot. Seems like a punch to me, since there’s a lot more in it than just wine: port, brandy and akvavit, and spice, raisins, and sometimes more than that.
        1. We do the same in the UK, and I have a German friend who serves this at Christmas too. It’s called, respectively, mulled wine and gluwein. It’s like a punch in so far as it’s a mixture but in my experience it is never called “punch”. A punch for me is a cocktail of alcohol and fruit juice, always served cold and generally disgusting!
          1. Collins defines ‘punch’ as any mixed drink containing fruit juice and, usually, alcoholic liquor, generally hot and spiced, so that’s the setter off the hook.

            I’m not clear whether hot in this context means served hot or hot as in spicy as in hot cross buns.

            1. Thanks Jack. That’s helpful, although I’m still interested in what most people’s experience of this is because the idea that a punch is, by default, a hot drink, is so counter to my experience. If you type “punch drink” into google images you will see what I think of as punch. There is a lot of ice involved.
              Even if it’s something I’ve never experienced I can of course accept that a punch might sometimes be hot, and nmacsweeney’s personal experience is at least as valuable as the Collins entry (dare I say it, more so). However unless my experience is unusual this really is like describing tea as a cold drink. It can be (in fact in most of the world it is!) but as far most solvers of this puzzle are concerned it usually isn’t.
              I should get out more, I know.
              1. The Collins entry counts for more, I’m afraid, as it’s one of the sources of reference for the Times puzzle so the setter is fully justified using the word ‘hot’, although I was also surprised by its inclusion.

                In my previous posting I was not clear whether ‘hot’ might have been a reference to spiciness rather than temperature but since then I have looked in the Shorter Oxford which states specifically “often served hot”.

                1. Sorry, Jack, I’m not expressing myself very well. I agree that the Collins entry quite justifies use of “hot” by the setter.
                  I’m interested in a different question. Based on two out of three data points currently available to me (my own experience and Google images) the Collins definition is wrong. As I wouldn’t propose either of these sources as a definitive authority on the subject I’m interested to know what others’ experience is. Based on nmacsweeney’s, for instance, the Collins entry is right.
                  At this point I don’t think I’m going to learn more!
                    1. Wow!
                      As I dislike punch (in the sense I’ve encountered it) and dislike hot alcoholic drinks (mulled wine and the like) I think I’ll pass on these.
  21. I did not have all the GK required for this, so I needed an extended session to finish in an hour, ending with the crossing MILES, from def. alone, and MUMMERSET, from wordplay alone. I didn’t know HOOKE either, but the wordplay was clear, and I remembered Dr. Pauling as ‘PAULDING’, which didn’t help. I also didn’t know THE WARDEN, coir, or earthing, which we call ‘grounding’. The awful safety motto of the Consolidated Edison Co. of NY for their workers, printed on their equipment, is: “Not grounded, not dead”. Succinct, but bit too terse for my taste. That motto, awful, but UY, the puzzle and clues, not awful, IMHO. Regards to all.
  22. 7:40 for me. I’m with those who enjoyed this one – a nice mixture of science and literature.

    Given Uncle Yap’s parsing of 2dn, I’m not surprised he disliked it, but perhaps he should be less quick to damn the setter’s (and editor’s) efforts in future.

    And I claim the privilege of age to make that comment.

    Great-uncle Tony

    1. Did anyone else get REALM for 23d? L for lawyer in Ream? Because of this mistake, I couldn’t quite finish it!
      1. I get the idea, but as far as I know L is not customarily used as an abbreviation for ‘lawyer’ so would not be eligible for use in a Times crossword. It’s not listed in either of the reference sources, nor in Chambers.
        1. Many thanks for that! I’m quite new to the Times Crossword, and don’t know all the ins and outs yet! But hope to get there one day.
  23. Very late comment (but very late solution, surprisingly enough correct). It’s been a while since I’ve needed so many lucky guesses (well, perhaps intelligent lucky guesses) to finish a puzzle: MILES (no understanding of the cryptic definition), ANEROID (a complete unknown but more likely than ARENOID), THE WARDEN and MUMMERSET only from wordplay (but of course MILES helped with the latter), CORSAIR (I thought RSA might be a legal term for the right to appeal — or, of course the Republic of South Africa). Sometimes I wish I could give up on these before wasting days solving them.

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