Times 24970 – The blogger’s albatross

Solving time: 29 minutes

Music: Stravinsky, Petrushka, Monteux/BSO

This seemed like it would be quite easy, but an early wrong answer ended up causing considerable difficulty. Furthermore, I did not fully
understand the substitute that I put in instinctively, but fortunately it turned out to be correct.

The rest of the puzzle is pretty straightforward, but there is one answer that is a rather uncommon word where solvers may have to lean on
the cryptic. If it wasn’t for that, this would be a beginner’s puzzle.

1 Omitted, one from the kiddie puzzle!
4 MOSQUITO, MO + S[uperjumbo] + QUITO, capital of Ecuador. A mosquito is not actually a fly,
but close enough.
10 LEND A HAND, double definition and almost as easy as 1 across.
11 OFFAL, OFFA + L. The most famous king of Mercia is used here.
14 ERODE, [Gr]E(ROD)E[ce].
15 ROOT CROP, ROOT + CROP. The sysadmin’s hair style.
18 THE TWIST, anagram of WITH TEST. Topical among sarcastic financial commentators
20 LEGAL, LE + LAG backwards. Whether ‘legal’ is ‘right’ is another question entirely.
23 TRAFFIC, double definition, but etymologically ‘traffic’ does not have the taint it has today.
25 ELEMENT, double definition, neither one very accurate.
26 EXTRA, hidden word in [compl]EX TRA[nsaction].
27 EVERGLADE, EVER + GLADE. Not widely used, but easy to guess.
28 MANDRAKE, MAN + DRAKE, a chestnut that usually calls for a famous seaman.
29 DEBATE DEB + AT + E[aster].
1 POLEAXED, POLE + AXED. Ah, the sledded poll-axe…..
2 LENTIGO, anagram of ON LEG IT, and one where you may need the cryptic. Once you have the crossing letters, this should seem the most likely answer.
5 OLD MAN OF THE SEA, double definition. I started with ‘old and in the way’, which answers the double definition, but does not work with the crossing letters. So I put in the right answer without understanding why, although it does
match at least the ‘Ancient Mariner’ part of the clue. The correct explanation turns out to be an allusion to a Sinbad the Sailor story, which I now vaguely recall.
7 INFERNO, IN + FERN + [Trur]O.
9 TAKE A RAIN CHECK, TAKE + A + RAIN CHECK. I am old enough to remember when only the literal meaning of this phrase was commonly used, when the ball game was rained out.
17 Omitted, so nothing here.
21 GRENADA, anagram of GARDEN A[rea]. The island in the Caribbean, not to be confused with the region in Spain, which is Granada.

52 comments on “Times 24970 – The blogger’s albatross”

  1. 32 minutes, with problems in the 20/21/25 area. Didn’t like ELEMENT much at all. Strange to forget GRENADA after the US’s supremely brave effort in invading a place of some 80,000 souls.

    10ac: is this a dd? or a def + wordplay?

  2. All the acrosses but MOSQUITO and ELEMENT went in at first reading, and after getting most of the downs in a first shot and convincing myself it must be MOSQUITO and ELEMENT I was all done and dusted in under 7 minutes. Most direct crossword in memory.
  3. 17 minutes, so the easiest daily I can recall in the 2 years I’ve been doing these things regularly. Same queries about ELEMENT, while LENTIGO sounded more like a skin condition than ‘lengito’, which sounds more like an Australian rugby player.

    No complaints after another set of tough weekend puzzles. That Moorie can be so devious!

    1. Allow me to be vicariously cock-a-hoop with that 17 minutes. Amazing for a relative beginner. Reckon about 35 minutes for me with fair enough cryptics for the unknowns LENTIGO and ASTARTE but I do wonder why the setter bothered with the baffling “burden” when the answer was so obvious in 5.
      Peter has certainly changed my Sunday morning routine.
      1. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may – it won’t last!

        I think “‘s burden” is needed, otherwise the clue is barely cryptic. Is Mr. Biddlecombe intent on occupying our whole day? (And apologies to Mr. Moorey for the misspelling.)

  4. Not much here to occupy those of us on a public holiday in NSW. 20 minutes for me, including a 3 minute pause at the end to get MOSQUITO and OILMEN. Give it another couple of months and the mozzie would probably have come to mind straight away.
  5. Similar experience to George. Just over 7 minutes, filling in LENTIGO and ASTARTE at the end.

    Tom B.

  6. 24 minutes. Might have broken the 20 minute barrier but for 5dn which eluded me for ages and I needed the checkers it provided before I could solve 4ac and 13ac.

    On 25ac Collins has ELEMENT: 3; factor, 5; a small amount.

    On 4ac COED has MOSQUITO: A slender long-legged fly.

    1. It looks as if I ought to buy a more up-to-date Collins. My 1986 edition doesn’t include either definition!
      1. If you do, be sure to check that every page is present and in sequence. Collins have had problems with missing sections and pages duplicated. I sent mine back to Amazon twice before receiving a complete copy.
  7. Agree this was a bit of a doddle – 8:30 so equal PB for me. Didn’t know lentigo but gettable neverteless. Nice to see The Twist making a comeback. It seems like only yesterday….
  8. 22 minutes with not much to stop forward momentum, except the two Q words and waiting for the crossers at Lentigo. Thanks to vinyl for explaining where the rain check came from.
  9. Yes, I’m another who found this the easiest one I think I’ve EVER done!

    Didn’t know LENTIGO, but luckily guessed the correct positions of the T and G, and hadn’t quite worked out the cryptic for STREAM.

    I feel I should be more satisfied, but somehow feel cheated that this was just too easy… (no pleasing some!).

    1. A sign of real progress Janie when speed alone no longer satisfies you but you need that tang of difficulty overcome
  10. Relatively easy although held up by Legal and Grenada and At Issue. Not helped by putting an unexplained “level” in 20 across and then convincing myself that 21 down was some sort of garden using an anagram of Nevada and A!
  11. 9 (and a bit) minutes. When I’m encouraging others to take up cryptics, I start with the maxim that they’re easier than straight substitution crosswords because each clue is really two clues, and all you really have to do is sort out what’s definition and what’s wordplay. This one, as has been noted, made that easy, with so many single word definitions followed by wordplay that might just as well have been in italics.
    Having said that, I missed out on the Sinbad reference and was so uncomfortable with ELEMENT that I checked other possible fillers post solve with electronic Chambers.
    LEGAL=right resonated for me with the advertising standard’s “legal, decent, honest and truthful”
    CoD to MOSQUITO for being the only clue to require a bit more sorting out, as in “solve three bits of wordplay then put these bits up front”.
    1. Yes it might have been easy, but it was actually the first for a while where I made a mistake. I put in REGALE (Re,Gal,E) for 29 across, and I would have been somewhat mystified about where my mistake was without this blog.

      So, many thanks.


  12. 9:46 here, although should have been quicker but I got stuck on the last two for a couple of minutes – MOSQUITO and QUOIT.
  13. 19 minutes. A very easy puzzle made rather more difficult by putting in CLAASIET and OILMAN and then taking far too long to see the errors. It didn’t help that they crossed with today’s two unknowns: LENTIGO and ASTARTE.
    1. Of course 3dn doesn’t cross with 2dn. What I meant to say was that 2dn’s unknown meant that I didn’t have the additional crosser I needed to overcome E—I at 14ac. ELEMI? ENNUI? ENVOI….?
  14. Rather too many from the kiddie puzzle to make this a challenge or enjoyable. ASTARTE and MOSQUITO alone were troublesome.
  15. I wish I’d timed myself… certainly the easiest I’ve encountered in the Times & the quickest completed.
  16. After filling the whole of the NW corner in 3 minutes I thought I was in for a personal best time, but the rest took proportionally longer, so I had to be content with 20 minutes. I didn’t understand 5’s reference to “burden” even though the answer was obvious once a few letters were in place, so thanks for the link in the blog.

    Many clues were cryptically so simple (17, for instance) that I’m afraid I found this puzzle rather dull.

  17. I must have really been on the setter’s wavelength as I don’t think I have ever completed a Times in 5 minutes before and probably won’t again after today.
  18. After a few saw this as a sprint time trial and came in at just under 11 minutes. Felt I should have taken a minute off that for a PB. I think ‘element’ though a touch surprising is quite OK. Superjumbo as s more of a surprise. Had to guess lentigo. Enjoyable as speed test but nothing hilly about this. What’s with our Russian friend?
  19. Very straightforward. Completed without any ‘doodles’ or anagram workings on the side – the cleanest page 63 has looked for some time.
  20. 9:59. I clicked submit before fully checking for errors in order to break 10 minutes. Phew.

    Started with O M of the S based on Def 1 and enumeration and carried on swiftly from there. The freckle and the goddess were unknown.

  21. Feel RE GAL E is as valid as BEB AT E. That sound I just heard were cries of “oh, no, it’s not!” On second thoughts perhaps it was whine of a mosquito.
  22. can anyone tell me why regale is not correct for 29 across? About – Re; Girl – Gal; Start of Easter – E. What am I missing?
    1. ‘Girl coming out’ = deb. If the answer was REGALE ‘coming out’ would be redundant.
      1. Yes, that’s true, but aren’t words sometimes redundant except for making the surface smooth? Could this not fulfil that purpose?
        1. Ximenean rules say that a clue should contain a precise definition; a fair subsidiary indication; and nothing else. Padding to improve surface reading is usually kept to a minimum, perhaps one word to make the clue into a sentence.

          I always ask myself: Do the words actually improve the surface? In this case, for REGALE the clue could read ‘Talk about girl before the beginning of Easter’, which is a reasonable surface, So why has the setter included ‘coming out’? He/she must be getting at something else.

      2. Thanks for that. I only saw deb in the answer as a girl as opposed to short for débutante.
    2. It doesn’t account for the ‘coming out’ bit in the clue. I also lobbed in regale at first…
  23. Yes, a walk in the park, but I still needed 20 minutes because of MOSQUITO and QUOIT, mostly because a MOSQUITO is not a fly, in my book. Thanks to vinyl for explaining how the Old Man became a burden; I certainly didn’t know that, or LENTIGO. Not much else to say. Regards.
    1. I thought the same, but according to Wikipedia at least the mosquito is a member of the order Diptera, also known as “true flies”. By the same standard mayflies and dragonflies aren’t flies. Rather in the way that virtually nothing with the word “berry” in the name is actually a berry I suppose.
      1. Thank you, keriothe, and I will not pick a Wiki-quarrel. I am sure the answer must be technically correct, but I will continue to believe that the mosquito is more a malevolent, annoying pest.
        1. I quite agree. By the same token the fact that the botanical community have commandeered the word “berry” for their own ends is never going to persuade me that a strawberry is not a berry. And personally for me the fact that “fly” for MOSQUITO is close enough is more important than the fact that it’s technically correct. However technically correct it does appear to be.
  24. Unlike some others today, LENTIGO was my first answer entered. Standard fare for Scrabble players from frequent letters EGILNOT.

    Like some others, though, thought clue for ELEMENT was weak.


  25. 6:25 for me, with a good half minute spent agonising over ELEMENT. I also made ridiculously heavy weather over THE TWIST: with ‑‑‑ T‑I‑T in place, I parsed it wrongly, and feared I was going to have to admit to my ignorance of the engineer’s HOT TWIST test.
  26. A very easy puzzle (except for LENTIGO, which involved guessing where the T and G went), which took me 37 minutes to solve, my best time ever. I also found ELEMENT rather weak. Otherwise there’s not much to say about it, nothing particularly amusing or so.
  27. I, too, got a personal best, with 16 minutes. Guessed at LENTIGO (my dictionary gives it as a mole, not a freckle, but then my dictionary isn’t always right), didn’t care for ELEMENT, either. Some of you who didn’t recognize ASTARTE might know her under her alias, ISHTAR.

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