Times 26107 – Over and over, more or less

Solving time: 23 minutes

Music: Mozart, Sinfonia Concertante, Davis/LSO.

We’re back to the easy Monday mode, with many of the clues being chestnuts that I was unfortunately very slow to recognize. My LOI was particularly galling, as it is a stock clue if there ever was one.

I have not been solving or posting much lately, owing to summer activities such as golfing and travelling. On my last junket, I took six unsolved Guardian puzzles with me, and only had time for one, so I am getting further and further behind. At least I am nearly caught up with the Times, although the May 19th puzzle threw me for a loop. Xyster, indeed!

4 SARAJEVO, SARA + JE + V[ery] O[ld]..
9 ROTUNDA, sounds like WROTE UNDER for you non-rhotic chaps.
11 ATTACHE, CAT backwards in A + THE.
12 IDYLL, backwards hidden in [rea]LLY DI[slike], an apt clue for those who read Tennyson as 14-year-olds.
14 HEADSTRONG, anagram of ORGAN[i]ST + HE’D.
16 OPUS, O + PUS[s].
19 DALI, DA(L)I. However, if you check with the Office Of National Statistics, you’ll find that you are far more likely to encounter a boy named Oliver or Jacob in modern-day Wales.
22 DYSPEPSIA, anagram of PEPYS SAID, rather obvious because PEP stays together.
23 LIMBO, L(I’M + B[eing])O.
25 TSUNAMI, ST backwards + UN AMI.
26 NIBLICK, BIN backwards + LICK, biffed in by me.
27 DRY STONE, DR(anagram of STY)ONE.
28 URGENT, UR GENT, unfortunately my LOI.
2 NATTY, N + A(T,T)Y.
3 TUNELESS, anagram of LUST SEEN.
6 ASTRAY, AS[h]TRAY, a chestnut.
7 EUCALYPTI, anagram of CUTE PLAY + I.
8 OREAD, cryptic definition, with ‘fell’ as one of the identically-spelt substantives, in this case an upland plateau.
10 AFTER A FASHION, double definition.
15 AYLESBURY, sounds like ALES + BURY.
17 SKYROCKET, S(KY R)OCKET. How McConnell was re-elected?
18 MILLIBAR, sounds like MILLIE + BAR.
21 PEDANT, P + DANTE with the last letter moved to the top.
22 DATED, double defintion..
24 MAINE, MA IN E. Since Maine is an Eastern state, this is not a particularly deceptive clue.

55 comments on “Times 26107 – Over and over, more or less”

  1. …for the cryptic crossword. 0 out of 1 for the Greek mythology quiz. Rubbish clue.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

      1. I have no idea, but that’s not what I’m saying. It’s one of those clues where if you can’t answer the quiz question, there’s no alternate way to the solution.
        1. It’s no different from any clue where you might be defeated by the wordplay. O?E?D should be enough to get the answer given ‘this nymph’ in the clue. Everything’s given us on a plate in the rest of the puzzle, so what’s wrong with a teaser here?
          1. Being defeated by the wordplay is fair enough. Here there isn’t any! The clue might as well just read ‘nymph’. If there were an elegant surface reading I might forgive this but I think it’s clumsy.
            1. The surface may not be exactly elegant but the clue makes perfect sense and is no worse than many other crossword examples of telegraphese, and displays some wit, though obviously the wit doesn’t have universal appeal. As for wordplay, one might as well complain that there is no wordplay to dd clues or to many cryptic definition clues, which this clue resembles.
              1. Of course, but I think cryptic definitions (which this sort of is, as you say) should be reserved for better-known words. This is not a common word.
      2. This is a clever clue with a proper word as an answer, unlike NUTJOB which still rankles!
  2. 18’45”, with a fair bit at the end taken over 8, 11 and 13. Fortunately I knew the nymphy part of 8d, since I had no clue about the moorland bit.

    I think they sometimes chuck a clue of the type [relatively] obscure target word derived from two obscurities to engender discussion, and keep us coming back for more, if only to check they don’t do it again any time soon.

  3. 14a is missing…and 13a mis-numbered.

    Edited at 2015-05-25 01:04 am (UTC)

  4. Here I thought OREAD was one of those GK items everyone had; anyway, since naiads are in the water and with no other nymphs besides nereids–if they’re nymphs-this went in quickly, and gave me SARAJEVO. (The Lake District, by the way, is crawling with fells.) DNK DRY-STONE, but it made sense; and fortunately I remembered AYLESBURY ducks from an earlier cryptic. As Vinyl says, an echt-Monday cryptic.
    1. You’re being a bit hard on the tree nymphs (the dryads and hamadryads). And, yes, nereids are sea nymphs, of course.

      And while the Lake District has many beautiful fells – I’ve walked many of them – I’ve never heard any of them called an oread, and there is no dictionary support that I can find for such a sense.

      It is a very odd clue, indeed, it would seem. What, among many other questions, is the function of ‘domain’?

      Edited at 2015-05-25 06:41 am (UTC)

      1. I’ve been accused of many things over the years, but I think I can safely say that no one has ever yet dared to call me hard on dryads. My second will call on you. Actually, now I see–when it’s too late to edit–that I should have said ‘no other nymphs coming to mind’ or something. And I think that, in your haste to cast aspersions on my nymphophilia, you’ve misread the clue: The oread’s domain is the fell.
        1. I can see that reading – as expanded on by Zed below – and could while solving (I think!), but still think the clue’s a little, well, odd.

          Oh, and no aspersions intended.

          Edited at 2015-05-26 04:28 am (UTC)

    2. At one point the Aylesbury football team celebrated goals by getting in formation and doing a duck-walk.
      I think their fans became desperate for them to lose.

      Edited at 2015-05-25 09:54 am (UTC)

  5. I was quite happy to complete this one in 28 minutes because I was aware early on that 4ac and 8dn were going to give me trouble as they hadn’t fallen when I completed everything else in that quarter. On returning to them after completing the rest of the grid SARAJEVO came to mind immediately and I guessed OREAD without really understanding either part of the clue.

    Edited at 2015-05-25 01:17 am (UTC)

  6. … biffed the mountain nymph, opening up the city at 4ac. Otherwise fairly plain sailing. Best clue was, I thought, the dyspeptic diarist.
  7. Like others my only real problem was 8D which I still don’t really understand. Luckily I saw 4A immediately (had to end JE-V-O so what else is there?) then the only nymph I’m aware of starting “O” is OREAD. 11A and 13A then confirmed my guess.

    I sometimes wonder if these setters whose heads are so stuffed full of this rubbish come to believe nymphs and the like really exist.

    1. Oh come on Jim, it’s just “which nymph has a fell for her domain?” And of course they exist. In literature.
  8. A nice easy start to the week. Many went in on the first run through and only EUCALYPTI put up any resistance towards the end. I didn’t see a problem with OREAD, in fact I thought it a pretty neat clue. PEDANT my COD.
  9. Smashing set of Christmas Cracker clues. I think I can claim pulling the cracker that produced URGENT for real, back in the day when everyone would know the reference and comedians could crack sidesplitters about ‘Er of the Chaldees. And isn’t ROTUNDA part of that “where was Magna Carta signed?” riddle, annoyingly QI’d by “it wasn’t signed at all, it was sealed”?
    In similar vein, perhaps, 8d could have been “Which nymph encourages literacy?”, 22a “Upset a drinking woman?”, 25a “A wave of Newcastle supporters” and 2d “Smart but flyblown?”. How we laughed!
    10.37, by the way, distracted by giggles.

    Edited at 2015-05-25 09:08 am (UTC)

    1. Or even “Illiterate nymph?” Similar experience to yours Z for a nice gentle start to the week.

      Edited at 2015-05-25 09:36 am (UTC)

  10. … Easy Monday again, 14 minutes solved as read from NE to SW with the Bosnian capital last to fall. OREAD was somewhere in the deeper recesses of memory, along with all the other nymph varieties, although I’ve never met one on the fells.
  11. 7 mins. I’m going out shortly to try and find somewhere to watch the Three Queens display on the Mersey so I was very pleased it all fell into place so quickly. VANITY went in straight away and I went round the grid in an anticlockwise direction to finish with ASTRAY after SARAJEVO, although I confess that I’m another who biffed OREAD. I knew the nymph but not the fell connection.
  12. 11.57, probably in my top half-dozen times. Quite fun in its way. It’s a shame that a word like oread can cause dyspepsia in some of our number (two responses of “rubbish”). I find the concept rather a lovely one.
  13. Galloped through this (relatively speaking) but could not even guess 8dn so a DNF.

    One of the upsides of being relatively new to this game is that what are old chestnuts to the grand masters can be amusing new discoveries to me – 28ac being a perfect example. Loved it!

  14. 16:33… pretty quick for me… just held up by NE corner… not knowing the nymph domains was thinking of naiad and dryad until I got 11ac. 7dn ny LOI. Liked the alternative clues z… The Newcastle supporters will be waving after yesterday’s result.
  15. Clearly right up my street, as evidenced by 6 and a half minutes on the clock with no fretful hold-ups along the way. As has been observed, some well-trodden paths, but pleasant enough for all that. And I shouldn’t worry, Nick; as I get older, I find there is definitely an upside to occasional memory lapses i.e. it means I get the pleasure of re-discovering old chestnuts as if for the first time. See also: whodunits where I’ve completely forgotten whodunit.
  16. I thought I was in for a personal best going by the speed with which I was writing in the early answers, but the NE slowed me up a bit, so had to be satisfied with 18 minutes.
    It’s some time since I’ve seen so much rubbish written about a perceived ‘rubbishy’ clue. I can’t see anything wrong with 8 at all; I think it’s rather neat. I also liked the anagram for 14. Easy puzzles can offer plenty of enjoyment if you stop to savour the clues.
  17. The perfect level of difficulty for someone whose husband thinks they should put down the crossword and get back into the garden (silly man, crosswords must always take priority) – I took 5:32 to solve it with my last one being the nymph, once I’d worked out she was the one who lived in the mountains.
    1. Only 16 seconds behind you… but sixteen seconds is a long time in crossword solving!
  18. A whisker under 20min for me, with which I was very happy until I realised I’d mis-spelled “OREAD” as “oreid”. I’m inclined to agree with Galspray, in that there was no wordplay to help out; on the other hand, it’s debatable as to how far the wordplay should be able to substitute for GK (or, in my case, for spelling).
    1. Ur
      City in Iraq
      Ur was an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia, located at the site of modern Tell el-Muqayyar in south Iraq’s Dhi Qar Governorate. Wikipedia
    2. …and also the birthplace (or at least first recorded place of residence) of Abram/Abraham, the original wandering Jew.
  19. 11:53, which somehow felt slow.
    I’m with galspray on 8dn: either you know what an OREAD is, and the clue is a write-in, or you don’t, and it’s impossible. And what I assume is meant to be the ‘cryptic’ reading of the clue doesn’t even make sense.
    1. Well let’s see. The clue is “Fell for this nymph’s domain”, the surface being (one version,  anyway) “was suckered into this sexy girl’s internet site”. Apologies to anyone of a sensitive disposition, but that makes sense. Then read it with the crossword solver’s twisted mind, and you get “fell” (some sort of hilly area) “is the domain of this kind of nymph”. Try a different pairing?  “Links for this sportsman’s domain”. A bit Yoda perhaps, but the grammar works and it makes sense.
      Accepted, if your nymphs you know not, guess two letters will you need to do.

      1. Would you ever refer to a website as a ‘domain’? I wouldn’t. I don’t think it works. Or at least it’s so clumsy as to signal the literal meaning, which is of no use if you don’t know what an OREAD is.
        1. Well, if not website (I might…) then lair, home, place over which she has control, setting. Still makes sense. I think there’s a surface sense of a young woman luring the hapless wanderer into her clutches.

          1. z8b8d8k, you’ve made a splendid effort to read the clue as intended and to justify it, but I’m afraid some think the word’s obscure (even though its occurrence in crosswords is not that rare) and clearly expect every letter of the answer to be indicated in some way. I don’t think they will be persuaded.
            1. It’s a word I knew, so it didn’t cause me any trouble when solving. I don’t think it’s horribly obscure, but it’s certainly not a common word, so I think it deserves an alternative way in for the solver who doesn’t know it.
          2. I can see what you’re driving at (and could from the start) but I still think it’s awkward.
  20. I’m with keriothe and jimbo on this nymph thing. Poor clue – if you don’t know it you’ve had it; there’s no other way to access the answer. The rest of the puzzle was OK, though.

    Edited at 2015-05-25 05:13 pm (UTC)

  21. It isn’t like the clue for OREAD is the first one that has just one way into the answer, and its level of difficulty rests on whether or not you know the type of nymph required. I certainly don’t think it is that obscure for a Times puzzle. Last week’s clue for XYSTER had more than one way into the answer but seemed to cause people far more trouble for the reasons given in that puzzle’s blog.
    1. I failed to solve that clue, but the point is that I could have, if only I had looked at the wordplay the right way. I solved the OREAD clue, but if you don’t know the word, you can’t. So you end up in a discussion about whether OREAD is a word you should or shouldn’t have to know, which just seems a bit of a shame.
  22. 22m and all straightforward. No problem with OREAD either as clued or as GK which I happened to have. Much prefer these gentle starts to the week!
  23. An enjoyable solve except for OREAD. I have scant knowledge of Greek mythology, and don’t feel any need for it. Rubbish clue.
    1. Again the clue called rubbish when it appears to be a scorn for the required GK that’s the problem. The girl’s name in the capital could have been Lara (etc.) if you hadn’t known Sarajevo. A depressing level of clarity in thinking, in this discussion, and of courtesy towards the setter also. I might add that knowledge of myth may give an understanding of ways of thinking different from one’s own, and create a deeper empathy for conversational situations where everything isn’t just plain logic.

      Edited at 2015-05-26 08:29 am (UTC)

      1. Joe, you’re right, ‘rubbish’ is a strong word, and not a nice thing for the setter to have to read. By and large the setters keep up a very high standard of entertaining and inventive clueing. But there is an issue with this clue. Keriothe has summed it up nicely in his/her reply to Andy. I too failed to solve XYSTER, but only because I wasn’t sharp enough to unravel the wordplay. Although that prevented me from finishing the puzzle, I felt that the setter had beaten me fairly and squarely. Moreover, I don’t think the SARAJEVO clue can be compared with OREAD. The second half of SARAJEVO is rendered by the wordplay, whereas there is no wordplay to assist with OREAD; also, I think most people would have heard of Sarajevo, whereas OREAD is a more ‘niche’ piece of GK.
        1. More niche but sad if too niche. The second half of Sarajevo being rendered aint the point. Again and again there’s a situation where not every letter is given by the word-play of the clue, possibly because of alternatives, e.g. Nanajevo. Anyhow my main point is the annoyance a lot of people seem to have at a word like oread, if it requires some GK to “find” it. As I said it’s a lovely concept. But cruciverbalists are often unpoetic souls, flaming literalists to the last degree.
          1. You’re right. I’m wrong. Sorry I’m an unpoetic literalist; I’ll try harder not to be.
  24. A rather sluggish 8:27 for me, making heavy weather of some easy clues.

    OREAD comes up so often that you don’t have to do the Times crossword regularly for very long before you run across it. When found, make a note of!

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