Times 26,099: A Bad Wordsman Blames His Tooth

I’ve been feeling a bit sluggish on the solving times lately, possibly because of an aching jaw since one of my fillings orchestrated a daring escape from its cell a week ago; so I was quite relieved to finish this tricksy number inside of 15 minutes.

A really good puzzle I thought: one of those where nearly every clue has an extra smidgin of misdirection to force the solver to think twice about what’s going on. Smooth surfaces, neat double definitions, a rather clever &lit, it’s all great. I loved the fresh-seeming devices like 1P EACH for “minimum unit cost”, UNDER SCORE for “up to nineteen”… spoiled for choice for potential CODs, but I think I may go for 14D, which ingeniously suggests one sort of PC in the surface while of course really being about another one entirely.

FOI was 12A, much needed as I only got a couple of the across clues on the first pass. Some false starts on my part included a very uncertain PARODIC at 29A (mostly on the right track at least) and CARTOMANCER at 13D (a fortune-teller interested in a different type of hand!). The bottom half did fall more easily than the top though. I was amused by HARPO being clued as “actor with no words to say”, given that I only recently finished the fellow’s biography “Harpo Speaks!”, and my head-scratching LOI was 6D – I know one “does one’s business” there, but does anyone really refer to their LAV as “the office” I wondered? Apparently the “house of office” was a term for the littlest room in the 17th century though, so maybe that’s what the clue is getting at.

Anyway, yes, a standing ovation from me. I hope the rest of you enjoyed it as much as I did. Will I be seeing any of you next Tuesday?

1 PRUDISH – like maiden aunt, perhaps: RUDISH [somewhat inconsiderate] on P [parking]
5 IMPEACH – charge: M [millions] having “1P EACH” [minimum unit cost] “to cover”
9 ROD – double def: staff / bar
10 MOUNTAINEER – person used to scaling: (ENUMERATION*) [“complex”]
11 MARKSMEN – they target: S MEN [singular | pieces] “written by” MARK [evangelist]
12 VELCRO – what can close: “part of” {le}VEL CRO{ssing}
15 DECK – double def: pack / dress
16 CORONATION – state occasion: C [“ten percent of” C{ommanders}] + ORATION [address] “guards” ON
18 PERQUISITE – expected tip: SITE [plot] “trails” PER QUI [for each | Parisian who]
19 SOUP – course: reverse [“following revolution”] of OS [“extremely” O{nerou}S] + UP [at University]
22 LADLED – served up: DEL DAL [key | pulse] written from right to left [“from the East”]
23 STALWART – robust: reverse of AWL [tool] in (“carried back by”) START [pioneer]
25 CONSOLIDATE – compact: (COINS LED TO A*) [“exchange”]
27 CWM – Bronwen’s depression maybe, i.e. a Welsh valley: C [C{ured} “at first”] “meeting” WM [William]
28 DEBUSSY – composer: DEBU{t}S [starts “taking time out”, i.e. minus T] + SY [S{a}Y “on vacation”]
29 SATIRIC – taking off: STIR [fuss] involving A [“first of” A{irmen}] + I C [I | caught]

1 PYRAMID – still something to wonder at: (DIARY MP*) [“produced”]
2 UNDERSCORED – added emphasis to: UNDER SCORE [no more than nineteen] + D [days]
3 INMOST – private: MO [doctor] “coming in” INST [this month]
4 HOUSE MOUSE – O [{wh}O “ultimately”] “feeds” MUSE [brood maybe] “beneath” HOUSE [board], &lit;
5 IOTA – minute amount: I [one] + reversed ATO{m} [minute amount “upset”, “losing minute” i.e. minus M]
6 PRIMEVAL – earliest: PRIME [charge] + reversed LAV [office “upset”]
7 AGE – get old: {m}A{n}G{l}E [“scrubbed on a regular basis”]
8 HARPOON – spear: HARPO [actor with no words to say] + ON [using… as in drugs?]
13 CHIROMANCER – one’s likely to ask for your hand: CHI{c} [stylish “throwing off cape”, i.e. minus C] + ROMANCER [wooer]
14 BOOTSTRAPS – gets PC (as in computer) into action: BOOTS [hotel boy] “holding up” PARTS [constituents]
17 TUBEROUS – like King Edward (potato): ROUSE with its last letter first [get up, “bottom first”] after TUB [bath]
18 POLICED – kept an eye on: POLIC{y} [strategy “de-tailed”] by ED [editor]
20 POTOMAC – US banker (river): reversed MO TOP [second | best “returns”] on AC [account]
21 FLUENT – articulate: {d}ENT [impression “daughter leaves”, i.e. minus D] following FLU [illness]
24 WILY – intriguing (as in practising intrigues): WILL [decree] with the final L becoming Y instead [“whose last line’s unknown”]
26 NUB – core: subtract an M from NUMB [“there’s loss of mass from” frozen]

36 comments on “Times 26,099: A Bad Wordsman Blames His Tooth”

  1. Too tricky for me, and I finished with one wrong (mite, unparsed!, for IOTA), which meant 5ac was going to be impossible. I had convinced myself that the M for millions was right… I also had another blank at 6dn (never heard of the LAV referred to as the ‘office’).

    The others went in very slowly but surely, with 18dn corrected en route (perused). Lots of misdirection and tricky definitions, made even harder by some half-remembered/unknown vocab: CHIROMANCER, PERQUISITE, CWM. Nevertheless, a great crossie to end the week!

    Thanks, Verlaine, again the blog was much appreciated today.

    1. PERQUISITE has kind of vanished from the language in favour of its shortened form “perk”, hasn’t it?
  2. 27 mins. I got off to a flier in the NW quadrant and thought I was in for a fast time, but I slowed up considerably after that and limped home with the POLICED/LADLED crossers, both Dean Martins, followed by a semi-biffed PRIMEVAL (I could see where “prime” came from but I had absolutely no idea about the lav/office connection) and my LOI BOOTSTRAPS. I found this very chewy and I didn’t enjoy it as much as Verlaine did (excellent time by the way) although there were some excellent clues, such as those for DEBUSSY and POTOMAC which I biffed but managed to parse post-solve.
    1. This setter’s style is starting to seem at least half-familiar – I think I always enjoy him (?) a little bit more than others? I might just be a sucker for this particular kind of mental punishment…
      1. At a guess, I’d say he means Deceptively Easy Answer Needing More Actual Reflection Than Is Necessary.
        1. That I have to say was my initial thought but it’s always worth checking.

          Believe that and……

          1. Ok, I’ll come clean, it was invented by Penfold. See Thursday’s comments.
  3. Excellent puzzle and blog. Cunning misdirection and some tricky vocab. I was of course familiar with “booting up” but didn’t know the computer meaning of BOOTSTRAPS for which I had to resort to a dictionary. Thanks to Verlaine for fully explaining IMPEACH, the proper parsing of which had eluded me. Like others, I was mystified by the val/office reference in PRIMEVAL. I have heard old-fashioned types ask about “the geography of the house” when in search of a loo, but I’ve never heard anyone say “where’s the office?” or “I’m just going to the office”.
    1. When you turn a computer on, it initiates a small piece of code which in turn pulls in the rest of the operating system. This code was known as a bootstrap as it “pulled the computer up by its bootstraps”. Hence “booting” up a machine.
      Not a lot of people know that.
      1. There’s definitely at least one person who’s spent way too much time with computers on the current Times cluing team, if I’m any detective – possibly Mr Rogan himself?
        1. I’d say definitely not Mr Rogan as I couldn’t solve one of his crosswords in 8:30, which it appears was only a minute more than the champion.
          1. Great time! I’ve been noticing the mighty Magoo posting a number of his times on the Crossword Club this week, most of them seemingly well under 5 minutes. *sighs hopelessly*
  4. 38 minutes with several answers biffed and I didn’t bother to revisit as this one didn’t suit my mood. Some of the ones I did work out I thought were trying a bit too hard. Probably down to me, though.
  5. Took me best part of an hour to unravel all of this fine puzzle. Still not sure I understand HOUSE MOUSE and didn’t get the lavatorial office thing at all. Hard to pick A CoD with 2d, 6d, 5a, 27a, all in my frame.
  6. Disaster! I think I enjoyed it, but my solving mojo was nowhere to be found.

    About 25 minutes, with 2 mistakes:

    27. CYM – which looked suitably Welsh. Never occurred to me that William might be WM, but on reflection it’s a lot more sensible than YM (some part of my brian was thinking of the ubiquitous will.i.am, perhaps)

    19a. COUP – biffed after spotting the word “revolution”

    Incidentally, I just Googled will.i.am to see if it was capitalised, and was taken straight to the website which has the URL will.i.am with no other domain extension. Apparently there is a .am top level domain and he’s made use of that. That must be the closest thing to a vanity plate on the web.

    Edited at 2015-05-15 10:54 am (UTC)

  7. 16m. I loved this, so it’s not just you! Lots of originality, numerous ‘aha’ moments, a minimum of biffing and a hopelessly obscure word (CWM) fairly clued. Super stuff.
    ‘Office’ for the loo was vaguely familiar to me, almost certainly from past crosswords. The meaning is in Collins, ODO and Chambers.
    1. Must admit that, despite growing up in (North) Wales, I knew CWM mostly from the pangram QUARTZ GLYPH JOB VEX’D CWM FINKS.
  8. Somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes, but I was very pleased to finish at all. Agree with Verlaine and others that it was an excellent puzzle.

    Must go back to Wales one day. Who couldn’t love a land where CWM is a word?

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    1. I wonder if the Welsh Tourist Board could be interested in a new slogan, “Cwm one, cwm all”?
    2. I used to live a place called Bwlch, so ‘cwm’ was a write-in!
      1. It’s all coming back to me now. Glaciers. You could call the depression a cirque, corrie or cwm.
  9. 19:42 which I’m quite happy with as this was tricky.

    I think we did CWMs in O-Level geography (not biology). I nearly left 11 as Moresmen despite not knowing any evangelists called More and not knowing what sort of targeting a moresman might do.

    Primeval was well and truly biffed and today’s Dean Martin was velcro.

  10. Untimed but well over 30 mins for this. As a former rugby man, the experience of hearing the red hordes singing Cwm Rhondda at the Arms Park made CWM far from obscure.

    Edited at 2015-05-15 02:14 pm (UTC)

  11. No time for me since I did it in 3 sessions, including one on the bus which never makes for a fast solve.

    No problem with CWM since I remembered geography (cwm corrie or cirque for the basin where a glacier originates). But I had never heard of CHIROMANCER (which weirdly isn’t in Chambers but chiromancy is). Never heard of the LAV thing but what else could it be?

    I live in California and will be in UK next week, but annoyingly on Tuesday I will be in Cornwall, not back in London until Wednesday or Thursday. Bit too far to make S&B.

    And talking of the Arms Park, I once did not finish a crossword, pretty sure it was the Times, since I missed CARDIFF ARMS PARK. And it was hidden in something to do with taking a card if the parking on the farm was filled or something like that. I was in awe the next day when I saw the answer (this was pre-internet days)

  12. No time to post but it would not have been short at all. A very tricky outing today, that wasn’t helped for me by having to work around some unknown items like CWM, the office, and my LOI, the BOOTSTRAPS as the elongated version of booting up the PC. I also enjoyed some of the clever things here, though, like ‘nineteen’, and ‘1P each’. And I also enjoy the familiar visage of the hirsute Verlaine occupying the top of the page. Great time, V., and even greater time, Cryptic sue. Regards to all.
  13. second time ever I have completed the Times cryptic, so to celebrate, I have created myself an account on here, after months of reading the blogs.

    PS Could someone please enlighten me as to the meaning of the word “invariant” that appears at the end of some comments? Baffled me for ages, that!

    1. If I recall correctly, it’s the codename of someone who posts anonymously.
    2. Congratulations, Danny. Feels rather good, doesn’t it? And welcome aboard.

      I’m sure Kevin is right about the Invariant tag. Some people prefer not to sign up but to append a name at the end of ‘anonymous’ comments.

  14. 12:47 for me, slowed early on by a coughing fit which I eventually had to assuage by finding a cough sweet.

    Like others I dithered over LAV = “office” and wasted time checking whether there was another alternative that would fit the clue. I’m familiar with “the usual offices”, though I suspect I’ve come across the singular form in some past crossword.

    1. DEL(ete) on a keyboard.

      I’ve been seeing a lot of these lately: ESC, ALT, SPACE and that kind of thing.

  15. Can someone explain the “SY” = “say on vacation”? I got Debussy (‘cos it’s obviously a composer beginning with ‘debu{t}s’) but I still can’t see how to parse the ‘sy’.
    1. “on vacation” = “after having been vacated” = “emptied out”. So you’re scooping out the innards of SAY, leaving just the letters at the beginning and the end.

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