Times 25,839

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Clock stopped at 15:59, for a puzzle I very much enjoyed. Not the easiest, with a couple of words I had to call up from the outer reaches of my lexicon, and as always there are bound to be different definitions of what represents “general” knowledge, but it’s all there in the wordplay. 15dn is beautifully executed, I thought; not that hard to solve, but packed with meaning in 7 words.

Across
1 POWWOW – P.O.W., WOW. American Indian word for a conference; not that it’s a word I can remember writing down recently, but I think I imagined it as two words, or hyphenated. ODO confirms I am mistaken.
4 OBSTACLE – [(CATS)rev., Left] in O.B.E., the Officer (of the Order) of the British Empire, as regularly awarded in Birthday and New Year’s Honours lists. The Obstacle Race is the more complex companion to the egg-and-spoon and sack races on Sports Day.
10 PODGINESS – (DOG)* in PINE S.S.
11 FEMUR – EMU in FatheR.
12 RENAISSANCE MAN – (NAMESANARSENIC)*. A polymath; think Leonardo da Vinci. I made a mess of this to begin with by thinking that “arsenic” was going to be represented by the symbol As, and the compound thus had to be a GAS. Pro tip: don’t over-complicate solutions before trying the more obvious way.
14 HEWER – Hail, EWER. I also made a false start here by thinking it was going to be Cutter + [word meaning “hail”] = word meaning “vessel”.
16 CASSANDRA – (ASCANARDS)* &lit. Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam of Troy, and was cursed to make accurate predictions which would never be believed.
18 SET EYES ON – SETE, YES, (NO)rev. Sete is not the best-known French port, especially if, like me, you start working your way round your mental map of France at the Channel end. However, even if you’ve never heard of it, the checkers don’t leave much room for doubt.
20 STOUP – TO inside SUP. The most common usage is in the basin used for holy water inside the door of a church, which is where I think my (admittedly vague) knowledge of it comes from.
21 GRASP THE NETTLE – playful def. based on the literal and metaphorical meaning.
25 SHAWM – SHAM (“no original”) hosts With. The shawm is a mediaeval instrument resembling an oboe.
26 MICROWAVE – MIC(rophone), ROW(“loud noise”), AVE(“welcome”).
27 SPEAKERS – the Speaker, and his or her assistants, chair debates in the House of Commons, while Hyde Park Corner is the traditional home of Speakers’ Corner.
28 AT REST – Right in A TEST.
 
Down
1 PAPERCHASE – P.A.(secretary), PERCH(“to sit up”) on A Stool, Energy. A bureaucrat would want all the paperwork to be readily available, correctly filed, and easy to find, of course.
2 WODEN – [DO in NEW]all rev.
3 OLIVIER – Overture, [1 in LIVER]. Sir Larry, later Lord O., greatest actor of his age. He’s no Beerbohm Tree, mind.
5 BISON – BIS(literally “twice” in Latin, so another way of saying “encore”, “more”), ON(“working”).
6 TAFFETAOFFER inside TA-TA.
7 COME AND GO – CO., MEAN, [compromisinG in DO].
8 EUROnEUROtic.
9 BEDSOCKS – BED’S, [Cold in O.K.’S].
13 HAPPY EVENT – cryptic def. drawing on a Disney dwarf rather than, say, a Tolkien one.
15 WATERGATE – (ATARGETWE)* &lit. Very clever clue when you unpack the meaning: these are the “plumbers” you’re looking for, and the Watergate building was where their activities became a big political mess.
17 SENTENCE – SENT HENCE without the Hard.
19 YASHMAK – [A SH Minute] inside a YAK.
20 STEP OUT – (P.E.)rev. in STOUT.
22 TAMER – (RE: MAT)rev.
23 TEASE =”Ts”.
24 AS ISBASIS without the opening letter.

62 comments on “Times 25,839”

  1. Struggled a bit this morning. Had to be SETE at 18ac, but I hesitated, not knowing it. Agree with Tim (now!) that 15dn (not across as per intro*) is good. But I didn’t see the nuances at the time. Tried PUDGINESS at 10ac, but couldn’t make it work.

    For 1dn, ODO has: “an administration characterized by excessive bureaucracy”.

    Don’t get me started on Seven Dwarfs puns!

    * Which I now see has been edited.

    Edited at 2014-07-15 06:39 am (UTC)

  2. STOOP instead of STOUP, for no good reason. The usual number of unknowns for me, including SHAWM, but not too hard.

    My wife is a Cassandra, and her predictions are usually pretty accurate.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    1. …is an alternative spelling, and was nearly my entry, as I was close to convincing myself that SOP meant “drink”.
  3. Like Mctext, I spent some time trying to figure out how ‘pudginess’ worked, but got it ultimately (PODGINESS is not in my vocabulary). 1d was slow in coming, since I would write the solution as two words (this happens often in these puzzles). I thought 16ac and 27ac were rather too easy, as was 15d; definitely nicely constructed, but easy. Not original=sham? Liked YASHMAK, but I think my COD goes to BISON.

    Edited at 2014-07-15 07:51 am (UTC)

  4. For the first time ever I took longer on the Quickie than on the main puzzle, by 15 minutes or thereabouts. This one took me 28 minutes. An excellent puzzle though I never heard of (or had forgotten) SETE.

    Not sure what you mean by ‘entry level’ re 4ac, Tim, but in case of any doubt, OBE is not the lowest rank in its class, that would be MBE (M for Member). And the initials OBE with reference to a gong stand for Officer (of the Order) of the British Empire, despite what Chambers says! The Order also includes GBE, KBE/DBE and CBE which all rank higher than the two previously mentioned.

    Edited at 2014-07-15 05:52 am (UTC)

  5. 15:16 … definitely up my street. Clues like .. WATERGATE and HAPPY EVENT are just a nice way to start the day. Thank you, setter.
  6. An interrupted 21.17, guilty of overcomplicating things especially in the bottom right:
    I was looking for a percussion instrument in 26 – the kitchen department of the orchestra
    Some sort of stellar event at 13 to create a red dwarf or such
    Trying to put both PE/PT and BE backwards in 20, with overweight as FAT
    I also very nearly wrote in CRUSH THE NETTLE, which sort of sounded right and fitted the checkers. Glad I didn’t, wouldn’t go through on appeal, I think.
    Tetchy mood spoiled what looks like good puzzle: nobody’s fault but my own.
  7. 17m. Mostly straightforward, but a few tricky words that required a bit more head-scratching. WODEN and STOUP were only vaguely familiar, and I don’t remember ever coming across SETE in spite of living in France for six years and working there on and off for the best part of twenty. But as Tim says, the checkers make up for my ignorance.
    The appearance together of 13dn and 27ac reminds me of the story involving the current speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, who is not the tallest speaker we have ever had. A junior minister reversed his car into Bercow’s in the car park, and he supposedly said ‘I’m not happy!’, to which the wag in question supposedly replied ‘well which one are you, then?’ This story was told by the Prime Minister so it must be true.
    I agree that 15dn is very good but I didn’t know who the plumbers were, so it rather passed me by.
  8. Every time I write in “fitted the checkers” it doesn’t quite feel right. Chambers says “fit” for the past tense is American, but (and) I think I prefer it. Any comments?
    1. I feel the same. “Fitted” is an awkward word. Score one to the USA.

      I suppose you could try out “fat the checkers”, after sit, sat .. spit, spat.

      Or go old school with “did fit the checkers”.

      1. The thing that I bought just fitted into the car. Fit would sound wrong here.
    2. I’d suggest you do as you please. You might start something.
      I have a related problem with ‘spelled’ and ‘spelt’. I can never decide which to use because they both look wrong.
      1. This becomes an important problem when trying to use the word misspelled…er, misspelt. You can look a fool if you get it wrong (or even if you don’t but that’s another story).
        1. I can’t used (mis)spelt without thinking of the corny version. But spelled…definitely works better with the magic and take a turn versions. I’m practically sure I would say “spelt” but write spelled. I suppose we must each do what feels – um – fit.
  9. Came up one short today (Shawm). Stoup unknown but gettable from wordplay.
    I saw a small herd of bison last month at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Anchorage.
    1. Hello Daniel. As a matter of interest did the plumbers reference mean anything to you or has all of that really passed into forgotten history?
      1. It’s certainly not forgotten history as far as I’m concerned, but the term ‘plumbers’ was new to me. Admittedly I probably got most of my knowledge from the movie…
      2. Hi Jim – no, plumbers meant nothing to me. Came here for the explanation.
        Spent a pleasurable while at lunchtime reading up on wiki about Watergate, Nixon and LBJ.
        1. One of the key players, a lawyer called John Wesley Dean, wrote a book about the whole thing as seen from the inside. Worth a read if you can find a copy.

  10. 28 mins, so another quick one, but, like Galspray, I had ‘stoop’ for no good reason.

    Didn’t anyone else start with ‘confab’ at 1ac? I was so confident this was right it took an age to sort out the top left.

    AS IS and TAFFETA without fully parsing.

    LOI the unknown SHAWM. Thanks Tim for the plumbers link.

    1. Really glad I didn’t think of it. I started with PODGINESS and R. MAN and worked up from there.
      Is the R word among the hardest to spell right(ly?), or is it just me? I got it wrong in the Jumbo 10 days ago.
    2. CONFAB FOI. What is the word we use here for wrong answers that nevertheless completely fit the clue?

      Edited at 2014-07-15 11:10 am (UTC)

      1. I don’t think this one does completely fit the clue, since FAB isn’t a noun meaning ‘amazing success’, which made me reconsider it fairly early.

        Edited at 2014-07-15 11:32 am (UTC)

        1. I was saved by my own ignorance there for whilst I did consider CON??? I’ve always thought the word in question was CONFLAB. Maybe that’s a meeting for slimmers. A quick glance at the clue for 1d (Get secretary…” also made me think there could be a PA at the start.
      2. I believe (although for obvious reasons I can’t offer dictionary support for this) that a momble has to be a non-word that fits checkers and wordplay.
        1. So what do we agree to call a real word (at least in Chambers) which fits the clue (almost keriothe) but is wrong? CONFAB seems to have been popular at the Club site.
            1. Well, there has been recent controversy over two real words that both clearly fitted the clue and the checkers in a prize crossword, but only one of them was ‘right’
              1. Yes, there can be more than one valid answer. I think what we’re talking about here though is words that fit the clue and enumeration but not the checkers. As CONFAB isn’t really one of these (because it doesn’t fit the wordplay), I can offer RENA, which did for me in one of last week’s puzzles.
  11. Very enjoyable 20 minute solve with only SETE completely unknown to me but the answer couldn’t be anything else

    I support Tim’s reminder at 12A that Occam’s Razor can be used to good effect. The word “compound” should ring the anagram bell and when “names an arsenic” has 14 letters the answer is fairly obvious.

    I think POWWOW was still in use in 1960s when we pioneer computer programmers used to meet to resolve mutual problems over a jar or three

  12. 33 minutes, with one wrong according to leaderboard – PUDGINESS not PODGI.. of which I have never heard and didn’t think to check. Note to self. Remember; if it doesn’t parse, it’s wrong.
    1. sorry, above was me, again should have checked was logged in first – browser not behaving
  13. 14.15 with a short delay going through the alphabet to get stoup, having been unable to see past ‘sip’ for the drink. Like others, I had singled out the plumbers for a special mention. The first and only time I heard Sète mentioned before today was in a song featured in a TV ‘teach yourself French’ series many years ago, but it stuck.
  14. 17 mins, and I went up some of the same blind alleys. When I read 1ac my first thought was CON??? but FAB didn’t spring immediately to mind so I left it until I had some checkers, which was probably just as well. It was lucky I saw the “dog” anagram fodder for 10ac because I almost put in a careless “pudginess”. I was looking for C???? for 14ac until the penny dropped. At 25ac I was trying to fit the W into the wrong unch of S?A?M until SHAWN surfaced from the depths of my memory. STOUP was my LOI from the wordplay, although I’d probably have risked it earlier but it took me much too long to see STEP OUT. I agree that the clue for 15dn was top quality, and it was an enjoyable puzzle.
  15. Bottom half no problem, except for shawm, which I needed to look up. I made the top half difficult by being convinced that give-and-go satisfied all the elements for 7d, and then spent ages trying to think of a 3-letter bird with v in the middle. Good puzzle – for some reason my COD was 17d.
  16. 26′. I have no problem with ‘fitted’; and prefer ‘spelt’ for letters and (of course) ‘spelled’ for times. Held up looking for a percussion instrument in 26. I rather like 10’s surface; but ‘cultivated type’ seems a tad light (lite?) for 12. – joekobi
  17. In Twelfth Night (which also features my tedious namesake) Sir Toby Belch is known to call for a “stoup” of wine. Slight King James biblical tinge here with “hewer” and “shawm”. I’d just started as a summer intern with a NY law firm when the Watergate burglary came to light – it was the subject of fevered water cooler powwows for the next couple of years until Nixon resigned. 21.9
    1. I was with some Americans when news came through that Nixon had confessed to his sins and several of them – men and women – started to cry. It was explained to me that the whole thing was like being told that The Queen had been involved in illegal activity – their whole confidence in the office of President and all that meant to America had been destroyed. A very moving experience I shall never forget.
  18. 23 minutes. A steady solve from start to finish. It seemed no harder than yesterday’s though it took me a bit longer for some reason. Nice set of clues.
  19. 25 minutes, helped by a bout of those “crossword coincidences” that afflict me from time to time. (For example, I’ve just been studying Victorian census records, and see that many of my male ancestors are designated “coal miner: HEWER”; so 14 was fresh in my mind.

    Like Keriothe, I too thought of John Bercow after writing in 13, and that made solving 27 very straightforward.

    Include me as another CONFAB, though I changed it immediately when I couldn’t justify the word “success” in the clue.

    1. Precisely. CONFAB can’t be the answer as it doesn’t fit the clue! CONFERENCE would be an odd definition for it anyway, even if you ignore the word “success”
  20. Most of today’s other cryptics had left me grumpy so I was pleased to find that this one was an enjoyable 10 min solve. I particularly liked the HAPPY EVENT.
  21. For some reason I got confab for 1 across (con = prisoner + fab for amazing). Oh well, never mind.
  22. A wrong LOI here after 15:05 – SCOOP at 20. Certainly in Manchester a sccop is a drink (“Anyone fancy a quick scoop at lunchtime?”) and a basin is scoop-shaped & vice-versa but I shan’t be lodging an appeal.

    Plumbers went over my head so I just threw Watergate in based on the flimsy link between plumbers and water and made a mark to seek full enlightenment here.

    COD to podginess.

    I had to change my Livejournal password the other day and the new one had to be eight characters long… so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

    Or should that be dwarves?

    Edited at 2014-07-15 12:31 pm (UTC)

    1. It certainly used to be dwarves. But rooves have gone to roofs in my lifetime and I imagine dwarfs on the cusp, so to speak. – joekobi
    2. Funny, when I did that the password had to have eight characters and include at least one number, so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs singing ‘Whistle While You Work’.
  23. I also fell into the “Confab” trap, having justified the “success” bit by just imagining it was a positional indicator (i.e. the fab “succeeds” the con by coming after it, so the con has “fab success”)….which in hindsight was a bit tenuous but everything else about the answer seemed fairly watertight.

    Although the secretary at 1dn gave me suspicions we were either looking at a “pa-” or an “ap-” to start that answer, it was Sir Larry at 3dn who confirmed the error of my ways.

    (Dave from N London)

  24. Enjoyable solve of about an hour, still learning and so “bis” as “more” was unknown, but bison was undoubtedly the answer. For some reason got hooked on bottom as “ass” from midsummer night’s dream, which really slowed me down steering me towards the obviously wrong in retrospect “cassocks” for 9d and some unravelling to be done for podginess

    Shawm the only DNK, good fun

  25. I enjoyed this, too but was stumped by SHAWM. HAPPY EVENT and SENTENCE both made me smile. Distracted briefly by trying to fit IBIS into a leg bone and coming up with FIBIA, wrong on many counts
  26. 32m for me but last 5 untangling BEDSOCKS so nearly a sub 30. Enjoyed the puzzle but needed blog to explain inter alia BISON and the French port, so thanks to setter and blogger today. My COD also to 15d.
  27. 12:06 for me, making a bad start by bunging in CONFAB even though I couldn’t see where “success” came in. I came dangerously near to bunging in STOOP as well, but realised SUP had to be more likely than SOP.

    An interesting puzzle with some fine clues, 16ac (CASSANDRA) being particularly neat – though it’s not the first time the anagram of “as canards” has been used!

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