Times 25150 – The sheep have taken to drink!

Solving time: 35 Minutes

Music: Mozart, Salzburg Symphonies, Hogwood/Academy of Ancient Music

A typical Monday puzzle, perhaps, with a bit of a sting in its tail. It is easy to get going a bit too fast and end up putting in a wrong answer from a literal – then you’re stuck.

I was nearly finished in 20 minutes, only to come to an abrupt halt. It took me a while to see my mistake, and to laboriously parse out the cryptics to the final answers. There are a
couple which I am not quite satisfied with, but overall the puzzle was of reasonable quality.

I have now been a Monday blogger for three years, my first blog having appeared on April 20, 2009. I don’t think I’ve improved much as a solver, although at least I never forget my mistakes. Pooh sticks, anyone?

1 CHAPERON, CHAR([s]P[e]E[d])ON. More often spelt ‘chaperone’ in this meaning. There was a medieval hat that the setter could have used, be on the lookout for that.
9 OPULENCE, POULENC + E with the reversal of the composer’s ‘leaders’. I thought for sure this would start with Lalo backwards, and eventually gave up and entered it from the literal.
10 Omitted, the usual answer.
11 NOT GIVE A HOOT, double definition, one jocular. My old typing teacher used to say ‘Not give two hoots in Hades’ – he was a repository of early 20th-century expressions that had long since died out by the late 60s.
13 WRITHE, WRIT + H.E., i.e. His Excellency.
14 AQUALUNG, cryptic definition, I believe. I can’t quite make ‘a low dive’ into ‘a qua lung(e)’, but others are free to try.
15 HARPIST, HARP(O+I)’S T[ime]. A cleverly obscured letter-substitution clue with a fine surface.
16 ABADDON, A BAD DON, one of the numerous pseudonyms of Old Nick.
20 REMINDER, RE(M)IND[e]ER. This use of ‘Dancer’ is definition by example, of course, but the question mark can cover many sins. I liked the misdirection in the clue, but suspect others will hate it.
22 RHYTHM, R[ight] H[aving] Y[ouths] T[ry] H[is} M[usic]. An easy one to miss due to a lack of vowels in the initial letters – at least that was my excuse.
23 WEST VIRGINIA, anagram of GR[e]AT VIEWS IN I. This should be obvious from the literal, since there is only one state that starts with either ‘East’ or ‘West’.
25 KNIT, T[h]INK backwards.
26 CALCUTTA, CAL[l] + CUTTA, sounds like CUTTER…..if you’re a non-rhotic speaker, that is.
2 HYSTERIA, anagram of THIS YEAR. A fine clue that gave me more trouble than it should have.
3 POINT-TO-POINT, POINT TO + POINT, where a ‘bill’ is evidently the bill of a cap, or so I supposed. A bit far-fetched if my analysis is correct.
7 Omitted, look for it!
12 HOLIDAY-MAKER, anagram of HIM ALREADY OK, and easy enough from the literal.
15 HERDWICK, HER + D(W[ith]ICK. A problematic clue, as ‘woman’ is not really equivalent to ‘her’, so I hesitated for a while before putting this in.
17 BARONESS, BAR ONE + SS. The cryptic turns out to be quite good, but I just put it in from the literal as I solved.
18 OPHIDIAN, O(P HID)IAN. You have to lift and separate ‘old Scotsman’, or ‘concealed’ will be doing double duty.
19 GROGRAM, GRO[w] + GRAM. If you put ‘gingram’ from the literal, you will throw a serious kink into your solve. Fortunately, I was able to work out 20 and correct my error.
21 DAINTY, DAI + N(T)Y. I am always forgetting this Welshman, so I needed all the crossers to see it.
24 Omitted!

54 comments on “Times 25150 – The sheep have taken to drink!”

  1. With a few guesses; so thanks for the enlightening blog. Still don’t understand how BARONESS works though.

    At 3dn, I suspect the “bill”=POINT uses the rather obscure meaning of “bill”: “the point of an anchor fluke”!

    Wasn’t the tempter at 19dn GINGHAM? At least it was for me; and left me looking for a dancer: R??I?D?I. Any takers? And yep, as Vinyl say, the question mark can mark many liberties taken or, to quote someone: it’s like a beard — hides a multitude of chins.

    MY COD to the owl in 11ac for purely personal reasons.

    1. Both ‘bill’ and ‘point’ can mean a promontory of land as in Portland Bill near our Dorset correspondent.
  2. 40 minutes for this meatier than an average Monday offering with the SW and its two unknowns last to fall. COD to one of those – HERDWICK – as the shemale element of the clue had me chuckling.

    Vinyl, you’ve missed the ‘r’ from the ferryman and Mozart’s birthplace needs emending too.

  3. I think 14ac is meant to be read literally, vinyl1, but I could be wrong. Thanks for the blog. It sorted out rootless and baroness for me. By then, though it was too late. I had put in program for want of anything better as I had never heard of grogram and failed to make the connection between develop and gro(w). This was a tale of two halves. The top half went in quickly but the bottom half took ages. Total time 1hr 52mins. LOI was the aforementioned program and COD was Prancer, Dancer etc.
  4. 50 minutes with all but seven in the lower half solved within 30 minutes. I loved 20ac where I spotted the possible Christmas reference immediately with no checkers in place and was absolutely chuffed to find it worked out.

    OPHIDIAN was from the wordplay although I am sure I have met it previously, but HERDWICK was unknown. I was completely foxed by the composer reference at 9ac despite having studied a piece by Poulenc for my licentiate piano diploma – fortunately the literal was obvious here. I got the musical reference at 17 though without difficulty.

  5. 20 minutes (and one second) on the timer, very much a Monday Gentle until it bites your leg about halfway down. HERDWICK was an unknown, and I checked it before submitting because I don’t like turning up on the board with one wrong. “Woman” and HER have equivalence, I guess, but perhaps not identity. It’ll have to do.
    AQUALUNG puzzled me: as others comment, it looks as if there’s more to the clue than meets the eye. Perhaps “low dive” is meant to lead us into gin joints and such, maybe it’s just there to distinguish from a shallow dive and a snorkel.
    GROGRAM sort of remembered from barred puzzles as a word that just looks wrong. the varieties of cloth are truly infinite.
    CoD to the opening notes of “A Calm Sea and A Prosperous Voyage” at 17: a delightful penny drop moment. Mention to OPULENCE – I may be the only person who worked it out from the cryptic.
    1. Me too. Not a composer we frequently see here. One of that rare list of words ending in “c” without an “i” in front. One of my treasured musical memories is of first playing the piano part of his flute sonata for a flautist friend. Quite bowled over – so beautiful!
  6. Enjoyable start to the week, I thought this had a bit more backbone than some recent Monday offereings, as well as a couple of nifty pushes at the boundaries – cod to the reindeer.
    There are indeed other states that begin with west or east, albeit not US ones maybe.. I’ve been caught that way before.
  7. Just under 25 minutes. I always enjoy a crossword that makes me smile, and 20 across did just that. The puzzle, I thought, was a good mixture of easier clues to get me started, together with some clever ones to tax the brain but nevertheless bring a chuckle when the Aha! moment arrived.

    Put me down as another getting OPULENCE from the word play, which is unusual for me; but I always mentally check off Les Six when trying to find the name of a French composer, so Poulenc was the obvious choice.

    Pleased that The Marx Brothers still feature, though I can’t recall Zeppo ever making an appearance. He was, I’m told, the funniest of the brothers off camera.

    1. Turns out he has appeared before, here.
      It’s perhaps not entirely surprising this doesn’t happen more often because I can’t think of any other way of using him in a cryptic clue.
        1. How about “copper stripped and whirled about, following unknown entertainer”?
  8. Enjoyable but troubled by most of those which have so far come up in comments. I’ll add ROOTLESS because I didn’t know (until checking) that ‘bootless’ = ‘vain’. Many thanks for the blog, vinyl, expecially for the parsing of OPULENCE.
    1. Doth not Brutus bootless kneel? Ah, the heady days of O-level English. They had their uses after all.
  9. 33.27 but I had hoped for a really good time after racing through the top half in 6 minutes and spotting HERDWICK as well thanks to BBC ‘s Countryfile and Adams farm! Slowed down in SE and ground to a halt in SW taking 10 minutes before REMINDER (my COD) fell and the rest soon after. The devil was a guess from cryptic and one I would not have managed a few months ago. So thanks to bloggers for explaining all so clearly – and a happy 3rd blogging birthday to Vinyl 1!
  10. I’m beginning to forget what a round of golf is like. Today my course is under feet of water as the Stour floods across it after inches of rain fall during the official drought – is somebody taking the proverbial?

    Similar experience to others as far as the puzzle is concerned. 80% easy but 20% difficult through a mixture of obscurity (the sheep) and cleverness. Not keen on DBE Dancer – no surprise there – but knew “bill” immediately for reason given by Jack. Don’t see the point of “low” in 14A

    1. IF it’s any consolation, mine in sunny SW France is flooded too after 3 weeks of unseasonable rain. Tougher than usual for a Monday, even a wet one, and I didn’t know Grogram, Abaddon or that bootless meant vain (although guessed that one was rootless).
    2. I guess the point of “low” in 14 ac is that an aqualung is normally (though admittedly not invariably) used to dive to some depth.

      Re golf: we had our first sunny rain-free morning in about two weeks at Royal Wimbledon GC today.

  11. 14.25 on the club timer.
    Straightforward puzzle, but I was a bit surprised not to have an error in the unknown foursome ABADDON, HERDWICK, OPHIDIAN, and GROGRAM. With “uninspiring” for BAD and “shortly develop” for GRO in particular I put in the best I could think of but had a strong suspicion I’d missed something better. And I worried about HER for “woman”.
    I hope it isn’t too much of a spoiler to say that one of these clues went in instantaneously thanks to yesterday’s Azed.
    I didn’t understand BARONESS so thanks for clearing that one up.
  12. 11 minutes for me – the sheep held me up more than most. I thought 25a was a particularly nifty reversal. This was one of those crosswords where my penchant for remembering not often used but unusual words helped no end, eg GROGRAM.
  13. Happy blogging anniversary, vinyl1, and thank you for all that hard work. I’m pretty good at Pooh sticks, as it happens, but that’s because I cheat.

    I had to take a break from this one and come back to it, having spent more than 10 minutes trying to work out the obscure Greek term for a theoretical absence beginning with the letter ‘E’. Returning to the puzzle, I realized I had indeed typed CHAPERONE into 1 across. That’s the thing about online solving – you can type a 9-letter word into an 8-letter light. At least, I can.

    COD – BARONESS. I did like ‘bar one’.

    1. Tacking on my congrats on your anniversary too, vinyl1. They were in my mind earlier but somehow got left out. Not sure how ‘Pooh sticks’ came up today but there’s no better place for playing them than the bridges in Salzburg, so that’s quite appropriate.
    2. I liked BARONESS too, once vinyl1 had explained it for me.
      I had a niggling feeling the device was familiar though, and it turns out it has appeared before in a near-identical clue, here.
  14. Quite pleased to finish this one within the half-hour and without aids, although several answers went in on faith – OPULENCE, ROOTLESS, GROGRAM, HERDWICK, AQUALUNG. On reflection, I’m sure aqualung is just a cryptic def, referring to deep-sea breathing apparatus, but when I first read it, ‘low dive’ made me think of the homeless paedophile in the famous Jethro Tull song. I’ll take that over Poulenc any day!

    Edited at 2012-04-30 12:17 pm (UTC)

  15. Compare Cockney usage in Minder of Arthur Daley’s “‘er indoors” with Rumpole’s more classical ” She who must be obeyed”.
    1. But “her” in that context means “that (particular) woman”, not just any woman.
  16. Much the same experience as others. HERDWICK, ABADDON, GROGRAM and OPHIDIAN all new to me, but getable from the cryptic clues. BARONESS was very good. I’m with those who didn’t like the woman/her equivalence at 15 dn. IMHO, the clue should have read “Woman’s detective …”.

    Congrats to Vinyl1 – and thanks to all the other regular bloggers for their excellent service.

  17. Zoomed through the top half but the lower part was a much more sedate solve. This was a lovely puzzle and I had plenty of eureka moments during the solve. Hard to pick a favourite clue but I thought 17d and 20a were outstanding. 28 minutes
  18. Got 21 correct today, maybe should have spent a big longer before giving up but there were a few unknowns I doubt I would have got. Why does the final point omission in 20A mean that you should take out the E and not the R in reindeer?
    1. It’s “point” as in “compass point” … N,E,S,W .. a bit of a crossword convention.
  19. 27 minutes, and a complaint about Calcutta. It’s Kolkata now. An enjoyable mix of clues however.
  20. A fine Monday puzzle, which I had to solve in separate sessions, so no real time. Like others, no knowledge of GROGRAM, ABADDON, HERDWICK or, for me, the composer. But the wordplay was accessible. Best regards to vinyl for 3 years of guidance, and the same to all the other bloggers. I liked the reindeer device, but the surface of the clue is somewhat strained, so I’ll vote for the Gershwin clue instead, RHYTHM.
  21. 10 minutes, so a breezy start to the week, though HERDWICK and GROGRAM went in from wordplay alone, and I didn’t quite get the wordplay for POINT TO POINT or WEST VIRGINIA. ROOTLESS (at least as part of wordplay) showed up somewhere else recently so that was in the front of the mind.
    1. It’s fair enough to point that out but I don’t see how it invalidates the clue or makes it ‘lousy’ as you put it. Collins lists Calcutta as “the former name…still widely used”.
  22. 6:59 for my first “clean sweep” of the year. (They seem to be getting rarer. Sigh!) I’d have been faster if I hadn’t wasted time trying to fit RESTLESS into 4dn and misread “Indian” as “Italian” in the clue to 26ac.

    I nearly came to a stand with HERDWICK (I had just the H in place when I reached it), but as I’d spent most of my holidays walking in the Lake District when I was young, it eventually emerged from the back of my mind as the type of sheep I’m actually most familiar with.

    Was I the only person who initially thought of ASTI at 10ac because it contained an anagram of “It’s”?

    1. No, Tony, it was a case of great minds think alike, or, more aptly, this Herdwick falling into line with others in the flock while the Severine Shepherd swept us through the gates into the next field.

      For those unfamiliar with the term, a clean sweep is, I believe, solving the puzzle clue by clue without revisiting a clue. Hats off!

  23. This is one of those puzzles that took me all day to “finish”. In the end I had to look up OPHIDIAN. Didn’t know the word, didn’t know Scotsman = IAN, and was misled by the lift-and-separate of ‘concealed’!

    Everything else I put in correctly but had to check against the blog. Here’s what this newbie didn’t get/know, or just wasn’t sure of:

    9a. ‘backs leaders’ = reverse first letters
    14a. Never heard of the thing!
    16a. ‘uninspiring?’ = bad, abaddon = devil
    3d. ‘bill’ = point, and never heard of the event
    4d. ‘vain’ = bootless. Seems like a good vocabulary word I should have picked up in high school.
    5d. ‘bird’ = mina
    8d. Misparsed ‘stock phrase about a’ as T(A)G. Imagine my confusion. 🙂
    15d. Never heard of it, but I was happy to get it from wordplay!
    19d. Never heard of it, and I’m sure there are other words with the form *R** that mean ‘develop’. So it was a lucky guess.
    21d. ‘dai’ = Welshman. The only Welshman I know is Mark Williams, the snooker player. And as a New Yorker I find ‘city’ = NY a stretch…

    * * *

    I find it very helpful to type out all my confusions. Hope y’all don’t mind too much.

    1. Other two-letter cities to look out for – in case you are unaware – are LA, EC (City of London postcode) and Abraham’s UR (although that is usually ‘old/ancient’ city).

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