Times 24961 – March if you’ve got ’em

Solving time : 19 minutes – and I was held up by the long ones in this case, last in was the anagram at 13 down that I was sure was going to be AEDROSAMTLN or something like that. With a lot of the long ones requiring wordplay to work everything out, I was in for a struggle here. But everything checks out in the end (I hope).

I think this was a really good, but challenging puzzle. I have a stand-up show tonight so I won’t be checking in for a while, but any fluffs or questions will be answered in due time.

Away we go…

1 SUSTAINED: (AS,N,DUTIES)* – one of several tricky anagrams today
6 H,(f)OCUS
9 PARAPET: double def, one cryptic for the PARA PET
10 MUTABLE: TAB(flap) in MULE(cross, dbe fans feel free to weigh in here)
11 our omission from the acrosses
12 ASCERTAINED: (CENTRE,SAID,A)* – another tricky anagram
15 VENDETTA: tricky wordplay – TA(army) but before that, have END(demise) in VET(surgeon)
17 EAU-DE-NIL: Nile green and one I had to get from wordplay – AUDEN is the poet in LIE(be relaxed) reversed
19 T,RIFLE: the T comes from the end of shooT
22 ZARASTHUSTRA: take a deep breath – Z(unknown),A,RA(artist), THUS(so), then ART reversed. I had the ART reversed part before the rest of it. Spiritual leader of the Zoroastrians, and Strauss took his name to write Ric Flair’s entrance music
23 (s)OAR
25 COGNATE: this took a while to get – TANGO reversed in CE
27 FITTING: double definition
28 EA,TUP: REPLACED here is leading to PUT BACK which is TUP. Not sure I’ve seen this kind of double cryptic used in the Times (there is a question mark after it – I got it from the definition)
29 TRAINBAND: A band of citizens from the 16th-18th century who bore arms apparently – regular definition and cryptic one of a band that would play on a train
1 SUPER: P in SUER(one tacking court action)
2 SURFEIT: F in(staying – strange containment indicator) SURE,IT
3 APPEASEMENT: APPEARS without the R then MEN in that old staple of a film for us, E.T.
4 NOTICE: double definition – if you give NOTICE you say how long you’re going to work until you’re out of there. And what a great feeling it is. The other definition, NOTICE for BILL works in showbiz
6 (s)HUT
8 S,HELD,RAKE: needed the wordplay to get this
13 ALDERMASTON: (MODERN,ATLAS)* – my last in and I had to pore over the letters to make them fit into a plausible-looking place name
14 NIETZSCHE: (ZEST)* in NICHE. I got this before ZARATHUSTRA and was wondering if I had spelled it correctly zeeing the Z as a checking letter
16 VIRULENT: liked this clue a lot – I RULE(order) NT(books) after V
18 UPRIGHT: double definition – an UPRIGHT is a part of a goal in American football
21 STAFFA: hidden – got this from wordplay, caves in the Hebrides
26 let’s leave this one out of the downs

33 comments on “Times 24961 – March if you’ve got ’em”

  1. How appropriate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thus_Spoke_Zarathustra !!

    Another great puzzle following yesterday’s: 47 minutes going anticlockwise from the top left and finding most trouble in the last quadrant.

    Didn’t see any DBE in 10ac: a mule, the animal (answer) is one instance of a cross (clue), not vice versa. So OK in my book — and I’m getting a bit more relaxed about DBEs in general. There’s also a horticulutal sense in which ‘mule’ is identical with ‘hybrid’.

    My main complaint would be the vagueness of ‘community’ = DUMFRIES; but the cryptic gets you there if you’re not looking for ‘firm’ = CO.

  2. Same time as yesterday (100 minutes), but with one wrong, ‘eau-de-vie’ for the colour. Disappointed with that, as I got the other one I’ve seen once before (TRAINBAND), even if after a long ‘is-it-isn’t-it?’ struggle.

    Super puzzle, where I think only one (FLORIDA) went in on the definition alone. SUPER, DUMFRIES, ALDERMASTON and VENDETTA all worthy of COD nominations, with the award going to the Scottish town on account of the fond memories I have of the 2009 ‘Tom Watson’ Open at Turnberry, which involved my daughter and me in an hour and a half commute twice a day from the Travelodge in said town.

    ‘Imph’m! Quite the dump, to tell the truth,’ as Dorothy Sayers might have written in her book set in the locality.

    1. Same for me.

      Don’t think I’d have ever have got some of these ones… so very different from yesterday’s where, though it took ages, I always knew I was going to get somewhere.

      1. Yes -and pleaed to see i wasnt the only one stumped. i guess if i would have got Nietzche on first pass i might have got zarathustra and so on. i really struggled in the sw corner
  3. 60 minutes for this one compared with 90 for yesterday’s but I had fewer solved today after the first 30 and if it had been my day to blog I would have been in full panic mode at that stage. However, things picked up eventually and I got there in the end without aids although it was a close thing and I actually reached for the dictionary on a couple of occasions only to be hit by a sudden flash of inspiration.

    ALDERMASTON was my last in.

    Like vinyl1 (nice to see you get a mention in today’s clues, btw) I also failed to recognise TRAINBAND immediately on first thinking of it. We met it previously as recently as 30th August. And like mct, I thought the DUMFRIES clue was a bit dubious and suggests that any place in the world might now be defined by ‘community’ without further qualification.

    Nobody has mentioned Fingal’s cave on STAFFA celebrated by Mendelssohn in his ‘Hebrides’overture. But for that I doubt the place would be famous enough to be included:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fingal%27s_Cave

    1. … it’s worse that that. The word “community” has almost no meaning. It’s the categorisation device with an indefinite number of members. Including misleading and contradictory ones. Hence, there is a “prison community” while prisoners are released into the community. In short: almost meaningless and by no means confined to towns, cities and the like.
    2. Well, it’s first definition in C is ‘a body of people in the same locality’, and if the setter had written ‘town’ or ‘former royal burgh’, it would have weakened the clue enormously, so I’m with the setter/editor on this one.
      1. There’s a “community” of online Star Trek fans. Chambers needs to get out (or stay in!) more!
        1. Generally an excellent and challenging puzzle, but I agree that community=DUMFRIES is absurd. The name of any place containing people would qualify on that basis. Getable from the cryptic clues but still far-fetched. It was my last in, so I accept there may be an element of sour grapes on my part. Thanks to blogger for explaining the tricky wordplay of VENDETTA.
  4. Oddly, NIETZSCHE was first to fall once I had shuffled the letters a few times, and then by association ZARATHUSTRA. Unlike vinyl1 I groaned at the possibility of a themed puzzle. Has there ever been such a thing in the Times?
    For us Times/Guardian solvers I think from memory that mule as cross has come up 3 times on the bounce in various forms.
    As tough as yesterday but without the joy.
  5. I didn’t find this anything like as tough as yesterday’s and was a touch disappointed with 31 minutes. Got off to a bad start with copper losing a p for coper at 1 dn. Agree Dumfries has to be given more oomph than ‘community’. A little imp of a puzzle, no more, nowhere near devilish.
  6. Today’s blog has encouraged me to try yesterday’s which a curious day’s activities precluded. I enjoyed this one in 23 minutes so yesterday’s should be a hoot.
    Jung would have liked the synchronicity: serendipitous listening to Radio 4 yesterday made TRAINBAND a stand-out word today – spooky.
    Otherwise lots of clever anti-cliché clues: the poet was not Poe, the garden tool was not a hoe, and the firm was not co. I also quite liked the military style of the vet, TA animals, for the use of.
    CoD to the pairing of Python’s favourite philosopher (it’s got an S in it) and ZARATHUSTRA just for recklessly word-playing both.
  7. There have been occasional themed puzzles. The only ones I remember are a comparatively recent one for the royal wedding (William and Kate) and I seem to recall a James Bond themed one a few years ago. I’m sure solvers with better and longer memories will come up with others.
  8. An enjoyable DNF, if that’s possible. Defeated by DUMFRIES/MUTABLE. Never on the right track for either the Scottish town or the concept of ‘cross’ as crossbreed (though familiar enough with ‘mules’ as sheep). COD to EAU DE NIL if only because the poet had to be Auden so it couldn’t be ‘eau de vie’ (my first thought).
  9. 28 minutes. “As tough as yesterday but without the joy” sums up my experience perfectly, although I can’t work out why this one was less fun. Still very enjoyable.
    I’m not sure I’ve ever come across HOCUS without an attendant pocus, and EAU DE NIL was new to me. Like ulaca I put in EAU DE VIE but fortunately I paused for long enough to see that it didn’t work so I was able to correct it.
    It’s helpful when a word like TRAINBAND comes up twice in such quick succession: now I have a fighting chance (boom boom) of remembering it.
  10. I often have trouble with the tiddlers, but today I got all the 3-letter words – and very little else – on my first run through. Worked through the bottom half quite smoothly, then ran aground in the NE corner. Eventually got there in 78 minutes, with the last 5 coming in a rush after I’d dug out the anagram at 12ac. Another good challenge, with a particular pat on the head to the PARA PET.
  11. I didn’t find this as tough as some. In fact, compared to yesterday’s it was a doddle, completed in 25 minutes. NIETZSCHE was easy to get, and the Z of that led immediately to ZARATHUSTRA, so the SW corner filled up quickly. We’ve recently had TRAINBAND so there was no time wasted there. Brief hold-ups getting PARAPET, DUMFRIES and EAU-DE-NIL.

    Like some others, I didn’t care for ‘Community’ as a definition in 5, but otherwise it was a good clue with a convincing surface. I thought the clues fairly good in general, particularly those for VENDETTA, SUPER, ALDERMASTON.

  12. Headache-inducing rather than head-scratching. Community is not the first nor hundredth meaning I would apply to Dumfries nor, for that matter, Dover. That was having entered correctly mutable as well as other cross clues. Took a while to get ‘Super’ having convinced myself ‘coper’ was one taking action. Standing ovation for the under 20 minute solver.
  13. Very impressed by this one. Worked very slowly clockwise from the Nw.
    After about 40 mins I bunged in ALRIGHT and ERA LE VIE out of pure frustration even though vie is clearly feminine! Double DNF here

    I thought NOTICE was a triple def since “time one’s given” could be one and “work out” could be another as in ‘work out the pattern in these figures’

    Spent a long time looking for a philiosopher beginning with O since I had invented the word OUTREE for issue. Only having got 14d right did the easy correct answer arrive!

  14. 26:22 .. I enjoyed it well enough, but it was tough.

    I make it that the five letters – t,z,s,c,h – can be arranged 120 different ways. I think I tried them all. Is there any sort of aide-mémoire for spelling Nietzsche correctly? It gets me every time.

    My next solving of the Times of London will be in London. Flying tonight, as Kenneth Williams nearly said. Anyone wishing to leave the country should hurry!

  15. Defeated by HOCUS which made DUMFRIES virtually impossible to guess. Like others here, I thought the definition was far too wide. Finished with aids after a 50 minute slog. Fond memories of ALDERMASTON where I was one of the marchers!. I loved the crossing Z in NIETZSCHE and ZARATHUSTRA. We don’t get that very often! “Also Sprach etc” always reminds me of the Space Odyssey.
  16. About 45 minutes to finish, relying on wordplay only for the last 3: EAU DE NIL, ALDERMASTON and DUMFRIES. I’ve heard of DUMFRIES, but not the others, and needed all the checkers for all of them. Extra time needed since, as pointed out, the usual cliches were substituted today with different elements. George, 19 minutes is quite an impressive time to sort through this. Dual COD’s to the crossing ‘Z’ clues. Regards.
  17. After a pretty decent stand-up set (someone posted me menacing a microphone on facebook for those of us who know each other there), it seems I wasn’t alone in liking this and finding it tricky.

    I should have mentioned that I had no idea how the literal for DUMFRIES worked, just that it fitted the wordplay exceptionally well so I figured it was a society somewhere. I’ll also withdraw the dbe criticism (at least in this comment).

  18. I confess I didn’t find this particularly hard – c20mins – with Dumfries last in. I like this setter, who pays proper attention to good surface readings, unlike yesterday’s tortuousities.
    However I fail to understand why 13dn Has “Start of the marches…” since surely that is where they finished?

  19. 9:40 for me, with MUTABLE and DUMFRIES holding me up at the end. Much more enjoyable than yesterday’s puzzle. I’ve absolutely no complaint about “community” for DUMFRIES, so I’ll make 5dn my COD for the neat “community charges”.
  20. Not sure I liked this in the end (certainly not as much as yesterday’s), but I did finish and don’t feel bad about the usual hour plus after reading the blog. Last in were SHELDRAKE (from the wordplay), VENDETTA, DUMFRIES, NOTICE (which was the only word that would fit, although I had to force myself to accept the definition), ALDERMASTON and TRAINBAND, which essentially was just a successful guess. And fortunately just before submitting I replaced EAU DE VIE (which I didn’t understand, of course) by EAU DE NIL, a complete unknown which at least fit the wordplay.

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