Times 25,842: A Maggot-Minded, Starved, Fanatic Crew

Hello again puzzling friends! I’m afraid to say that I find myself once again UP AGAINST IT, being off to sample the delights of the Latitude Festival in lovely Southwold, Suffolk in the very near future. It feels like I’ve only been back from New York for five minutes and already I’m gadding off somewhere new. My life does seem rather exciting when viewed in fortnightly snapshots, but I assure you there are vast longueurs in between, which only the finest crosswords known to humanity can defuse.

Please to report I enjoyed this one an awful lot: nothing *too* difficult here but plenty of things that led me up the garden path for a while, with some very enjoyable “aha!” moments. Lots and lots of clues with a real sense of fun and joie de vivre, the way I like it. “A” to indicate “film of old” is the only thing I paused to parse – does it imply the old classification that ended up being replaced by PG, or have I missed something?

Hard to choose a clue of the day as there were many that I really liked, but I think it might have to be 13D as I’m a big fan of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat and “material for baleful” was just a bit irresistible. But I really do have to run at this point or I’ll miss my ride. Toodle pip!

1 STUCK-UP – superior: T [shirt, “finally”] “available in” SUCK UP [fawn]
5 A BAD EGG – “one undesirable customer”: BADE [ordered] + G + G [goods] “on” A [approval “initially”]
9 MOA – “bird once”: MOAt [“taking off close to”, i.e. removing last letter of, ditch]
10 NIP IN THE BUD – “Scotch early”: NI [“returned” IN = home] + HE BUD [male friend] “consuming” PINT [beer]
11 SEASONED – experienced: “bit of” malaiSE AS ONE Does
12 ESCORT – shepherd: piE iS neverR sofT “at the ends” with CO [firm] “in the middle”
15 NUNS – “order?”: eNiUgNaS, i.e. SANGUINE reversed then with odd letters removed
16 PSYCHOPATH – (SHY APT)* “to grab” CHOP [axe] &lit.
18 BATON ROUND – cryptic def. – the sprint relay team hopes to get the “baton round” the track, the rioter to avoid being shot with this synonym for a rubber bullet
19 SKIP – triple def. – “bound”, “not to select”, “team leader”
22 UPTOWN – American suburbs: UP TO [the responsibility of] + W + N [opponents at Bridge]
23 ASHPLANT – stick: ASLANT [inclined] “defending” HP [payment method]
25 JAMMY DODGER – fattening treat: and, punnily, one jammily dodging something
27 YEP – “informal approval”: YE [“solvers of old”] + P [puzzle “at first”]
28 YONKERS – place in New York: (ORKNEYS)*
29 READMIT – let in again: READ [are students of] + MIT [American college]

1 SIMPSON – “Homer, for one”: SKIMPS ON [uses very little] with K [Greek “finally”] “shunning it”
2 UP AGAINST IT – struggling: U [university] PA [secretary] GAINS TIT [gets the bird]
3 KIND OF – pretty: F [female] “attending” KIN DO [family party]
4 PUPPET SHOW – “where strings are pulled”, and getting PET [“dog perhaps”] into PUP SHOW [“Junior Crufts?”]
5 AUNT – relative: AT [TA = cheers, “up”] “visited by” UN [one]
6 ADHESION – bond: A [“film of old”] + (IS ONE HD)* [“remade”]
7 EBB – go out: BBE [BE = live, “after initial repeat”] reversed [“is over”]
8 GO DUTCH: GO [leave] + DUTCH [wife], and a wife going dutch must “treat herself”
13 OMAR KHAYYAM – old poet: MARK [token] + HAY [material for baleful] in OYAM [MAYO = Irish county, “turned up”]
14 ICING SUGAR – “fine material for coat”: I [one] + (GRACING US)* [“with shifts”]
17 SNOW TYRE – cryptic def. playing on double meanings of “purchase” and “inflation”
18 BLUE JAY – “a high flyer”: BLUE [adult] + JA [German for 27(A)] + Y [years]
20 PITAPAT – beating: PIT [“return of” TIP = head] + APT [likely] “to receive” A
21 SPARTA – old city: ART [craft] “guarded” by SPA [well]
24 TOSS – cryptic def., around the subject of a coin toss
26 MEN – “the gents”: OMEN [sign] – O [over]

30 comments on “Times 25,842: A Maggot-Minded, Starved, Fanatic Crew”

  1. 26 minutes but with one error. I had pencilled in ‘Samosan’ for 1d, thinking Homer was from Samos (turns out I was thinking of Pythagoras — easy mistake to make .. poet, mathematician .. much the same thing) and forgot to go back and parse it. So, unusually for The Times, I’d have been better off watching more cartoons than having a bit of classical education.

    Really ingenious puzzle. Probably the NUNS do it for me.

    1. Someone from Samos is a Samian – a Samosan worships at the altar of Indian snack food.
  2. But with a lot of pleasure. Also had TOSS as LOI. Wondered: do you have to use a coin? Why do the heads roll? Surely they turn up (about 50% of the time)? And is that “often”? A lot of wondering for a 4-letter answer.
    1. This looks like a double definition, one cryptic, with roll=toss as in ‘toss and turn’. Not that thought of that when solving because I was seduced by MO for procedure and MOBS calling for heads to roll. Well the MO is OK but the rest is BS.
  3. Quite tricky but very enjoyable. ‘A’ / ‘PG’ was my take on the old film too. My LOI, 24dn, was the clue that took me over the hour and at that point I decided to resort to aids. Not that it did me any good because there are 201 words that fit ?O?S, so I abandoned the idea of wading through that lot and eventually spotted the cryptic interpretation.
  4. Two hours of fun-filled torture was this one. Quite a bit I didn’t know. I imagined a ‘baton round’ was when Bobbies used their truncheons – how behind the times I have become; a feeling reinforced by never knowingly having heard of – or eaten – ‘jammy dodgers’ (or ‘jammie’, as I see they are known on their Wikipedia page). ‘Pitapat’ had also passed me by, although I once sang the ‘Rataplan’ song in Donizetti’s Fille du Régiment, which helped. That, being my penultimate in, was followed by ‘ashplant’, bunged in on a wing and a prayer, as I’d forgotten it from last time it appeared.

    It seems that MIT clued by ‘college’ is vying for Clue Most Likely to Irritate Sizeable Minorities with ENTREE clued (quite rightly, of course) as ‘main course’.

    1. I wonder if the spelling of jammy dodger has to do with avoiding the trade name (and product placement – see below): I found recipes for making jammy ones, but the trade name is definitely -ie. Perhaps the Y ending is a generic bickie after all.
      1. Very possible. I was attracted like a misbehaved magnet to ‘jammy bugger’ until the checkers put paid to that.
  5. So not so bad. No, I cannot tell a lie, I had to cheat to get the spelling of the poet’s surname. Just needed those three letters, but I was looking for a three-letter synonym for “material”, assuming that Omar K must have been a baleful old poet. Sure it sounded a bit harsh, but who am I to judge?
  6. Three over 30s in a row this week, this one only 2.32 over, and I think the most satisfying and enjoyable to complete
    TOSS my LOI: brief research suggests a competition for Most Fiendish CD amongst setters. I’m sure it’s come up more recently than 25297’s “Raise a bit of money before opening ball” which flummoxed me then.
    One of those solved piecemeal, with gaps in each quarter until a breakthrough guess/brilliant piece of solving opened up the remainder.
    Did anyone else notice that this was a disturbing set of answers for post solve checking, with things like ABADEGG, GODUTCH and UPAGAINSTIT just looking wrong?
    Loved “material for baleful” once I’d put the breaks in the right place, and wondered whether Jammy Dodger was another example of product placement – it’s surely not a generic biscuit like bourbon or nice.
    I’ve only just got “German for 27”: I should read through Verlaine’s excellent blog more thoroughly, and am indebted for his unravelling of SIMPSON, my other DQG (didn’t quite get). I took way too much time trying to work out what had been German for that long.
    My compliments to setter for some really elusive definitions and amusing artwork..

    Edited at 2014-07-18 08:37 am (UTC)

  7. Another harder than average offering. Not a fan of the cryptic definitions but I did like the clues for PSYCHOPATH and MEN.
  8. Tough but very enjoyable, a proper “Friday” puzzle. Like pretty much everyone else, TOSS was the last to fall, when I had a moment of inspiration and a sudden recollection of the last time it came up; like Z., I’m sure I’ve been foxed by it before, more than once, so it was especially nice to feel that after 30 years of doing the Times puzzle, the odd thing is finally starting to sink in.

    The other things I’ve learned over the years include not to get involved in arguments about whether MIT is a university, a college, a school, an institute or something else 🙂

  9. A few seconds under 33 mins. I agree with Z8’s opinion that this was the most satisfying of the week’s trickier puzzle. I should have got OMAR KHAYYAM faster than I did from the definition alone, but I didn’t see it until I finally got SKIP, which I thought was an excellent triple definition. Once I’d got TOSS and the very good NUNS (aren’t they all?) I was left with the 1dn/9ac crossers, both of which should have gone in much earlier than they did. I’ve no idea why I didn’t think of MOA/moat until I’d got the final checker from SIMPSONS, and why the cartoon didn’t occur to me for so long is very worrying. I couldn’t get off the “poet or pigeon” line of thought for ages, and it was only after I separated “uses very little” and “Greek finally shunning it” that I was able to parse the clue correctly, and when I saw what it led me to I wanted to kick myself.
  10. Furious with myself as gave up on 50 minutes unable to get away from ‘jammy beggar’ and so not seeing ‘toss’ even though I could see the parsing. Had been going well after a logjam halfway through…then the freeze. I have always settled for a definition of teaching as to nip young dooms in the bud, after finding the phrase in Beckett. – joekobi
  11. Difficult puzzle, especially after a short session in the 19th to celebrate a good round. Even the cryptic definitions were good. Well done setter.
  12. A very enjoyable 26 mins.

    Apparently 4 jammy dodger biscuits contain more than one’s recommended total daily allowance of sugar. Sad but true.

    1. But we laugh in the face of RDAs, don’t we? I mean, what’s the recommended daily allowance of crossword puzzles? It can’t be more than one or two…
  13. 36m, and I’d echo the comments above. Much the most enjoyable of this week’s tricky ones.
    My last in was the poet. I realised I was looking for the Rubaiyat chappie but had no idea how to spell him and couldn’t make head or tail of the clue for ages beyond the MAYO bit. I eventually saw “material for baleful”, which is brilliant and devious. Nice work setter.
  14. Enjoyed this difficult puzzle. At 5dn I wondered about one=UN. In French, perhaps, but surely this should be signalled? Am I missing something?
  15. Ah thanks. I don’t think I’ve come across that device before, or if I have, it passed me by!
  16. I found this very tricky, but did enjoy it. Toss defeated me, need to get into the practice of looking for cryptic definitions when all else fails. Could someone pls explain the go dutch logic more fully to me- i dont understand how when a wife goes dutch (ie splits the bill)- she treats herself?
    1. I’m not 100% sure I’m right but the way I read it was as a double definition, where the first is “straight up”, and can be better understood by putting a comma after “go” – “Go, [O my] Dutch!” – and the second more allusive, so that a wife splitting the bill with herself may be seen as giving herself a treat. We’ll see how that goes down…
      1. I’d say the first part simply consists of two word-for-word definitions leading to the solution so ‘Leave’ = GO and ‘wife’ = DUTCH.

        The second as you have indicated is more allusive and to be gleaned from the surface reading of the whole clue. I might imagine a scenario in which the husband is assumed to be treating his wife to something (a meal or an outing) but then for some reason he only pays for himself, leaving her to do the same.

        1. Hm, seems very contrived to me, but thanks for your suggested explanations
  17. Yeah, but then wheat’s a sort of vegetable, raspberry flavoured plum jam contains at least two fruits, pectin is from apples and vegetable oil is from – um – vegetables. I reckon that all 5 of your 5 a day. I bet the sugar’s derived from a vegetable too. And where does fructose syrup come from? Clue: “Fructose”.
  18. 18:24 for me. There was some wonderfully clever stuff here, but at the time it all felt just a bit too convoluted – though perhaps that’s because I’m currently tackling a series of comparatively unconvoluted (though nonetheless quite tricky) puzzles from the Times archive. I did like “material for baleful” = HAY, though.

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