Times 26,105: How Green Was My Wake-Up Call

“So how long did it take you to finish Richard Rogan’s puzzle this week?”
“No, I said…”
“Yes, I heard you. Tuesday. All of it.”

Quite a memorable week for the Times Cryptic with the aforementioned puzzle reducing at least one grown man to tears, a tricky rematch with 1973, and yesterday’s puzzle which was no slouch either, if I recall correctly through the pain. At least I bookended my catastrophes with good performances on Monday and Friday; things could well change as it’s only 6.45am, but at time of writing I was abutting the champ in both score tables, trailing in both cases obviously by the three-minute-odd gap that separates logodemigods from the mere mortals.

Thought this was a fine Friday puzzle, just the kind I like, requiring the gamut of knowledge from the classical and literary through various eras of history to computer operating systems and such. Must confess that to achieve a sub-8-minute time a fair amount of biffing was involved on my part. I was amazed to learn the pronunciation of 10A, but this type of thing has been a blind spot before: I remember when I was working as an assistant at Upminster Library confidently addressing a patron as “Mrs Bow-Shomp” only to have her snarl “Beecham!” at me. Likewise 22D, whose answer seemed clear enough from the wordplay, but I would never have been able to explain what kind of shoots it might have been getting at in a million years, without looking it up.

Anyway, another glorious, challenging, entertaining puzzle to cap a whole week of them. We really are being spoiled lately, so mercy bee-cup to the setter. If Mr Rogan wants to have a fallow week next week I feel he’s probably earned it, but I bet it’ll continue to be onwards and upwards. Those dashed crossworkaholics over at the Times!

1 FEBRUARY – this [month] lasts less time than the others: (BEAR + FURY*) [“reacts with”]
5 WOBBLE – not stay firm: W/O [without] + B{i}BLE [sacred text] minus I [“I will fall”]
8 OWL – bird: {f}OWL [hen or duck] minus F [“no fine”]
9 CATTLE GRID – CAT LEG GRID [animal (wants) limb | freed] with a T in it [“catching end of {foo}T in this”], &lit
10 REVEILLE – call for soldiers: R.E. [some of them (i.e. soldiers)] by homophone of VALLEY [“place of death, as heard in poem” – the poem being Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade, I assume]
11 TIFFIN – lunch: TIFF IN [argument | during]
12 HARP – instrument: {s}HARP [not in tune, “leader refused”]
14 FAR-FETCHED – unlikely: “to be imported from the antipodes” would be to be fetched about as far as possible…
17 WHEELIE BIN – WIN [secure] holding HEEL I.E. B [end of loaf | that’s | black], and semi-&lit, being a good place to toss your mouldy old crusts
20 DOSS – flop: homophone of DOS [operating system “said”]
23 EMAILS – (A SMILE*) [“can transform”]
24 TITANIUM – an element of grey (i.e. a grey-coloured element): TITIAN [auburn] with the I moving elsewhere [“one changing position”] + UM [hesitation]
25 REAPPRAISE – think again: RE APP RAISE [concerned with | software | to promote]
26 AHA – I’m surprised: A + HA-{ha} [ditch “only goes halfway]
27 UNREAD – ignored: UNREAD{y} [“not quite” like Ethelred]
28 EYESTALKS – a feature of crustaceans: EYES TALK [viewers | discuss]

1 FLOOR SHOW – what’s on at the club tonight: FLOORS HOW [confounds (with) question]
2 BOLIVAR – freedom fighter: BOAR [pig] about LIV{e} [to be “chopped”]
3 URCHIN – street arab: UR CHIN [original | feature]
4 RETALIATE – to respond in kind: reverse of LATER [after “rising”] + I ATE [I took meal]
5 WREATHE – wind: WEATHER [storms and rain perhaps] with the R moving to a new position [“displacing river”]
6 BAREFACED – shameless: BAR [piece of music] + E, F, A, C, E, D [random series of (musical) notes]
7 LUDDITE – no progressive: (DILUTED*) [“moves”]
13 PREDICATE – assert: P + RATE [power (and) scold] receiving EDIC{t} [“incomplete” order]
15 FRIGIDITY – unfriendliness: F RIGIDITY [female | firmness]
16 DISEMBARK – to reach the shore: (MADE BRISK*) [“manoeuvres”]
18 HOME RUN – a great hit in America: HOMER UN [bard | one “writing in dialect”]
19 INSIPID – flat: PI [good] getting into INSID{e} [interior “unfinished”]
21 OKINAWA – island: O KIN AWA [old | relative | off “to Scottish”]
22 LAYERS – shoots [Chambers says a layer is “a shoot bent down to earth in order to take root” – blimey]: PLAYER [pianists, perhaps] minus the P [“missing piano”]

55 comments on “Times 26,105: How Green Was My Wake-Up Call”

  1. ….then count me in as one of the denizens of the nether world.
    Probably around 40 minutes in two sessions, the second being far more productive than a bleary-eyed first before the caffeine had kicked in and I was able to correct some badly biffed answers (e.g. HARDBACK for 28a and UNABASHED for 6d).
    It was therefore with a nice feeling of satisfaction that I finished this neatly clued puzzle.
  2. Nice puzzle this, even if I came home in more than 7 Verlaines. I didn’t know Titian as auburn or heel as the crusty end of a loaf (I think our estimable setter may wish to add ‘end of’ to his loaf), but that didn’t really matter as I biffed WHEELIE BIN and got the dreaded chemical element from the crossers eventually. WREATHE last in and COD for the misdirection and the mini weather forecast.

    Yes, it’s been a good week for crosswords, with even the Monday putting up more resistance than usual to test this semi-mortal blogger. Semi-mortal that is in being halfway between the state of the blessed mortals who can regularly go sub-10 and those who inhabit the nether world, rising only occasionally to breathe the ether.

    Incidentally, I got my valley from Psalm 23, but the Tennyson poem is the more likely reference, as “David’s” valley, like this blogger, dwells in the shade.

    Edited at 2015-05-22 08:20 am (UTC)

  3. The bottom half went in OK but then I couldn’t get the WHEELIE BIN out, so the top half was much slower. REVEILLE was easier to define than to parse. The boogy-woogy bugle boy of Company B doesn’t pronounce it like that, and things from ‘the antipodes’ are not quite so FAR-FETCHED here. A really enjoyable crossword.
    1. Yes they are: there’s no capital A, so wherever you are it’s the other side of the world. I know, I know, I was going to complain about it too on your behalf, but…
      1. Quite right Z. And in fact there is no land mass that is antipodean to any part of Australia. So Aussies are in fact amongst the least antipodean people on the planet!

        (If we dug a really deep hole we’d end up somewhere in the North Atlantic, which is one of the reasons I’ve never tried it).

  4. I logged out shortly after the half-hour point, with 26a and 21d remaining, and I thought this would be a double DNF; then came back a few minutes ago and parsed the two within 30 seconds. Go figure. But a lot of biffery, pre-eminently REVEILLE; where I come from–indeed, where I am–‘reveille’ rhymes with ‘heavily’. 6d ranks no. 1 in my list of clue types that I dislike.
    1. I note (ha!) that the setter really pushed the envelope out by including six this time – just one short of the octave. A challenge for a future setter, perhaps.
  5. A leisurely 23.09, but with a couple left unparsed, notably the bin, AHA (ditch, 4 letters, begins with HA – um…) and the wake up call. Might have got them if I were blogging.
    I have always believed tiffin to be about tea time, not least because the chocolate confection is, well, chocolate. I’m dam’ sure Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond meant something completely different when he went off for some. Chambers disagrees.
    “Random series of notes” is just cheating. I’m sure we agreed that decades ago. That cad of a setter should be debagged. I nearly defaced my crossword when I saw it. Egad!
    1. “Expunged a handful of notes (7)” appeared in No. 22,808 (29 October 2004).
  6. An entertaining and stretching 17 minutes to end an enjoyable week (if you find enjoyment in having your brain tested almost to destruction, which I suppose I must do). My only cavil would be to add my name to the list of people who don’t like wordplay of the “some random letters between A and G” sort.
  7. 21 minutes, so several Verlaines I’m afraid, although I never set out to beat the clock, just to enjoy the exercise for the little grey cells and appreciate the setter’s wit. 28a took an age because I was fixated on the idea of ****BACK as in viewer’s feedback, which the Y refused to live with. I liked Ethelred and Wheelie bin especially.
  8. 16 mins, so not a bad end to the week. I’ve always pronounced REVEILLE the way the setter presumably does so I had no problem with it. Count me as another who biffed WHEELIE BIN, together with TITANIUM which was my LOI after I decided to trust the wordplay for LAYERS. I needed all the checkers before I saw LUDDITE despite seeing the anagram fodder on first read, so that’s my Dean Martin of the day. I’m also not surprised that the clue for BAREFACED generated so many comments.
  9. Needed most of an hour for this one but it was a steady, quite tidy solve and I never felt out of my depth until it came to parsing HEEL in WHEELIE-BIN and LAYERS. I eventually gave up on these.
  10. 26.40. I’m not against the 6 dn. clue: the ‘bar’ excuses the series of notes I’d have thought. And if it’s a tad shameless then… There’s a nice balance between pushing the envelope, cluewise, and busting it. We’re all for the former and hit the roof at what we deem the latter. Liked the original feature (3).
  11. About 40 mins here, with all parsed bar REVEILLE… I’ve always come across it rhyming with ‘heaVILY’ not ‘VALLEY’. Unknowns BOLIVAR, LAYERS and OKINAWA went in on parsing alone. Somewhat of a relief after yesterday’s beast.
  12. Last in and COD OKINAWA
    6D I’m surprised the clue wasn’t Shameless – random series of notes about river.


    1. Having six different letters in a string is one thing, chucking eight, including two doubled up, around another letter might be deemed actionable, if one of our number (also known by his letter) became so enraged that he needed emergency treatment.
  13. 36:56 for me. I’ve been lurking here a while having started doing the crossword again a few months ago after a gap of over 30 years. Great blog. Helps no end with the clues I can’t parse. I was looking for an anagram of RAIN in 5dn until BAREFACED helped me with NE corner. I thought the BAR excused the random series. SE corner held me up.. couldn’t parse TITANIUM, LAYERS or AHA and spent too long trying to think of a Scottish island starting with O and ending in A. Enjoyed this week’s puzzles…. and was glad to find I wasn’t the only one who found Tuesday’s hard!

    Edited at 2015-05-22 10:18 am (UTC)

  14. 22m. Another where I started reasonably quickly and then got seriously bogged down on the last few. I thought for a while around the 15-minute mark that I wasn’t going to finish.
    I’ve always pronounced REVEILLE like the French, so 10ac baffled me completely. Having said that I’m not sure it’s a word I’ve ever actually said out loud.
    I don’t usually like clues of the 6dn type but I thought ‘random series of notes’ was so explicit as to make the device acceptable.
    1. So hang on, do I need to start pronouncing surveillance “sur-valley-ance” now?
        1. That stresses me out. Maybe if I take some veigh-um it’ll calm me down though.
  15. Another in the enjoyable 40 minute camp. I’m relaxed about homophones (perhaps the Americans, and probably the Antipodals, have to be), so reveille was a learn-to-spell-another-of-those-iffy-words exercise rather than a get exercised exercise.
    But I still don’t see AHA. Can someone spell it out so I don’t lose sleep all weekend?
    Thanks for the blog, Verlaine.
      1. Why is a haha a ditch? I guess that’s what I’m missing.

        Edited at 2015-05-22 01:07 pm (UTC)

        1. The dictionary will tell you that a haha is a wall or other boundary marker that is set in a ditch so as not to interrupt the landscape.
            1. I occasionally hear claims that it was called a “ha-ha” because people would tumble headlong into these concealed ditches and get laughed at. I’ve never been certain if that’s true or just a gag.

              ETA: Wikipedia suggests “The name “ha-ha” derives from the unexpected (i.e., amusing) moment of discovery when, on approach, the recessed wall suddenly becomes visible.” I think that’s much less funny than people actually falling into a ditch, personally

              Edited at 2015-05-22 01:47 pm (UTC)

              1. Taking Sue’s suggestion, I did open the OED (should have earlier, but then we’d miss out on this discussion) – which agrees:

                ” a. F. haha (17th c. in Hatz.-Darm.) ‘an obstacle interrupting one’s way sharply and disagreeably, a ditch behind an opening in a wall at the bottom of an alley or walk’; according to French etymologists, from ha! exclamation of surprise”

              2. You reminded me of Mel Brooks’s definitions of tragedy and comedy: Tragedy is when I get a paper cut; comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.
            2. One of the commenters on Big Dave’s blog uses me as his own personal dictionary looker-upper. I’m thinking of adding it to my job description.
              1. Funny the things I think to look up, and the ones I don’t. On this, it didn’t occur to me that there might be a word even when I read the blog.

                With that said, I think it would be very interesting to get the dictionary that a crossword solver put together. Second definitions, unusual nouns, and a range of pronunciations suitable for a range of homophones.

  16. 12:19 so Verlaine beats me today – but then I don’t suppose he was woken up by an earthquake in the early hours today – it isn’t a good excuse for being tired and grumpy, but it is the one I’m going with.
    1. If only 1A 5A had been MAY EARTHQUAKE instead of FEBRUARY WOBBLE! I still reckon the setter may have some kind of fuzzy precognition powers.
  17. 35 minutes, so not very hard, but a very good puzzle with lots to savour apart from the shameless 6dn. I suppose next we’ll have “Destroyed a succession of notes” though we could be spared that on grounds of ambiguity since the answer could also be EFFACED.
    1. Given that cabbage is a slang term for money, I wonder if you could clue it as “A bunch of notes?”
  18. Enjoyed all the puzzles this week (except for the ridiculously easy qualifier on Wed). Didn’t mind today’s clue for 6dn, which led me to thinking about voicings for Dm9. But that’s just me.

    Edited at 2015-05-22 02:08 pm (UTC)

  19. I didn’t know the slang term, but indeed you could. An eight-letter word is the maximum you can get out of a series of notes – DEBAGGED. I’ll leave a witty clue to you.
  20. NO! Two people have now interposed themselves between myself and Magoo on the leaderboard. The dream is over.

    I did narrowly beat his time on the Concise today mind you, miraculously enough…

  21. 17:43 with 5dn both my second-to-last one in (wrestle) and my last one in (wreathe). I had to write down weather to work out what had to go where once I’d realised that wrestle and wind aren’t synonymous.

    I didn’t know heel as a crust, ur- as a prefix and that meaning of layers.

    I particularly liked cattle-grid and far-fetched.

    Thanks for the blog V, I’ve always used the Andrews Sisters as my guide to pronouncing reveille.

    1. Since the Andrews Sisters pronounce “schön” (as in “Bei mir bist du schön”) as if it was Shane (as in “Shabankareh”), I regard their pronunciation as about as reliable as David Levy’s (as in “Shabberknackeray”).
      1. Late to this because I was away. You and I had this exchange before in the last year! Not having heard it spoken I’d no idea how to pronounce it UK-style before moving to the States in my early 20’s, so when I read Scott Fitzgerald’s Taps at Reveille at that time I thought it was pronounced French-style, until I heard Bette Midler’s version of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. Fast forward to 1996 when I happened to be the impresario of an Irving Berlin retrospective that included his WWI song Oh How I Hate to Get up in the Morning. It includes the lines – “I’ll amputate his reveille and step upon it heavily, and spend the rest of my life in bed”. I have a feeling you may be as unconvinced as you are with the Andrews Sisters, but it does demonstrate the dodginess of some homophones when you add American usage into the mix!

        Hope you have now accomplished your move and unpacked all the boxes…

        1. Oh dear! My memory is so addled these days that I’d completely forgotten that you and I had discussed this previously. Anyway others seem to have forgotten it as well!

          As for the move, I wish! We’re still some way off exchanging contracts let alone completion.

          1. Are you moving house at the moment then? We are mired in a hell of searches, exchanges and completion dates ourselves right now… crosswords are my only respite!
            1. I am indeed moving house. I’m just glad we weren’t aware of each other’s plight at the George, as we’d almost certainly have started comparing notes, and spoiled the much-needed respite that the S&B gathering provided.
  22. Good grief. Pretty hard today, which took 30 minutes or thereabouts, but like the other day I was unsure of several. Happily, all correct again. LOI LAYERS, because I didn’t believe it. Regards.
  23. Did this in breaks during a dress rehearsal last night and enjoyed it a lot. My only biff was TITANIUM, and I really enjoy seeing wheelie-bin in there for the old Perth (Australia) joke…

    A man in perth is dragging a plastic bag full of rubbish on to the street corner, his neighbour sees him
    Neighbour: Hey, where’s ya bin?
    Perth man: Oh, I’ve bin up the coast
    Neighbour: No, where’s ya wheelie bin?
    Perth man: You got me, I really bin in jail.

  24. I’m glad I came here today just for the wheelie bin joke! 36 enjoyable minutes but held up somewhat in the NE corner. WREATHE is obvious now but for some reason it wasn’t so obvious this morning when I tackled the puzzle. And CATTLE GRID brought back fond memories of a journey along the Heads of the Valley road in South Wales with an absent-minded professor (Hugh O’Neil – emeritus metallurgy Swansea). Prof veered off the road in the direction of Merthyr Tydfil, belatedly realised his mistake, did a U-turn and got his Mini stuck in a cattle grid. It was a good job we weren’t being tailgated! Quite a crowd gathered to watch the show. Some lorry drivers eventually recovered their composure and lifted us out. I always think of Prof when crossing a cattle grid but, rather disappointingly, they seem to have been redesigned to make them Mini-proof. Ann

    Edited at 2015-05-22 06:28 pm (UTC)

  25. Apart from a quibble over pi=good, a tough but enjoyable puzzle. Biffed a few, including wheelie bin, which I should have seen, as “heel” is definitely in my vocabulary. If you want a second opinion on pi, read Burns’ “Holy Wullie’s Prayer”.
  26. Whistled through it until I got stuck with WOBBLE and WREATHE, which added about 10 mins. Around half an hour. Fun puzzle and nice blog; thanks.
  27. 9:12 for me, so slower than you but currently only one place behind you on the TCC leaderboard. (I was delighted to finish ahead of mohn, a rare triumph for me. Lettuceleaf and auchiedollie are slow neutrinos, so Jason is the only real solver between you and Magoo.)

    A first-rate puzzle: my compliments to the setter. I particularly liked CATTLE GRID, a rare example of an &lit that really comes off.

    As sometime bandmaster of the Dotheboys CCF band, I had no problem with the standard English pronunciation of REVEILLE. And I’ve done enough gardening to have had no problem with LAYERS either.

  28. Delightful to meet you on Tuesday, by the way, Tony! I hope there are more such opportunities… October, of course!
    1. Great to meet you too. I’m feeling even less confident than usual about the Championship this year, but at least the social side of things should compensate to some extent if I make a hash of the competition itself. See you there.

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