Times 26161 – A bit of a struggle

Solving time: 77 minutes

Music: None available

This was a off-site solve that entailed many difficulties. Finding a key to the house, getting the computer started and hooked up to the internet, getting the printer working, etc, etc. Fortunately, I tested everything yesterday or I would have been in a fine pickle. As it was, conditions were quite difficult.

Under such circumstances, one hopes for at least an easy puzzle. However, as far as I can tell, that was not the case. There is some very tricky wordplay in this one, and biffers for once will receive their just deserts. So without further ado, here is the last blog I will ever attempt from a remote location!

OK, thanks all, I am back in New York. The solve was particularly annoying; the house must have been close to 100 degrees, and there was no way to open a window. There was also a fire alarm with a dying battery that beeped every thirty seconds. Attempts to remedy these conditions lead to further problems, as I had to look for a ladder in a dark garage. These activities are included in my time for the puzzle. Anyway, by the time I was ready to do the blog, I was not in the best of moods.

1 CASTLES IN THE AIR, crytic definition, and one that made me hope that the whole puzzle would be easy.
9 SWINGBEAT, S(WIND + BE)AT. I don’t know it, but it seems to exist.
10 GUAVA, starts to G[row] U[nusual] A[ssorted] V[egetables] A[nd], with ‘fruit for the definition.
11 ATTILA, ALIT + TA backwards.
12 AFFLUENT, A F[irearm} + FLUENT.
13 DIGEST, DIG + EST, should have been easy but wasn’t.
15 BERLINER, B[ritish] E.R + LINER. I had supposed while solving that this referred to a specific newspaper, but it is actually a format of newspaper, like a broadsheet or a tabloid.
18 DREADFUL, anagram of LAD FREUD, this one took a few crossers for me.
19 MAGNUM, spoonerism of NAG MUM.
23 CHOPIN, CHOP + IN. Unfortunately, I had ‘rapper’ for a long time, which does fit the cryptic, ‘rap’ = ‘hit’ and ‘per’ = ‘by’. I would be curious to hear how many other solvers had this answer.
27 RAPTORIAL, RAP + TO + LAIR backwards, my LOI, a rather clever clue.
28 POLO NECK SWEATER, POLO + NECKS + W(E)ATER. How ‘necks’ = ‘drinks’ is not clear to me, but this is the obvious answer.
1 COSTARD, CO(STAR)D, where ‘cod’ is a verb synonomous with tease or kid. How ‘peaches’ = ‘star’ is not quite clear, but I can think of several theories.
2 SWIFT, double definition, thanks for the easy one!
3 LEGALISED, L(EGALIS)ED, where the center is ‘silage’ upside-down. I would suspect many solvers just wrote the obvious answer in here.
4 SMEW, S + MEW.
5 NOTIFIER, NO + T(IF)IER. Anyone who biffed in ‘narrator’ will get stuck very quickly.
7 AGAMEMNON, anagram of AMONG MEN A.
8 ROASTER, R(OAST)E + R[ight].
14 GREENMAIL, sounds like GREEN MALE. This activity is obsolete.
16 LOATHSOME, LO[ut] + AT H(S)OME. This put paid to my rapper.
17 EUPHORIC, E(UP HO)RIC, another brilliant and difficult clue.
18 DUFFS UP, DUFF SUP. The literal doesn’t seem right, I may have the wrong end of the stick here, but the cryptic clearly points to the answer I have provided. Comments invited.
20 MANGLER, L in anagram of GERMAN.
22 INK IN, [l]INKIN[g].
24 PAINT, hidden in [she]PA IN T[ibet].
25 OPUS, O + P[rofessor] + U’S.

54 comments on “Times 26161 – A bit of a struggle”

  1. Vinyl: didn’t you see the big anagram?
    Oh and at 1dn: “peaches” is RATS (informs on) in gangster speak.

    Edited at 2015-07-27 03:19 am (UTC)

  2. Surprisingly fast, considering how much time I wasted: I thought ‘allowed’ (3d) =LET and played with that, at some point forgetting the enumeration and treating it as two words; got MANGLER early on, but couldn’t for the life of me see how it worked; biffed (mentally, only) ‘narrator’ as Vinyl predicted, etc. DNK SWINGBEAT, BERLINER (like Vinyl, assuming there was such a paper), DUFFS UP (LOI), GREENMAIL. COD to 1d or 5d; both with wonderful surfaces. ‘Peaches’ (from ‘impeaches’)=rats on (little Stephen Dedalus’s father’s advice to him as he drops him off at boarding school: “Never peach on a friend.”)
  3. … to a good start at 1ac. (Reminded me of having a 45 single of Don McLean’s “Castles in the Air” which invariably stuck, repeating the words “… to despair”, over and over.)

    More trouble with the other long one (28ac) even though I was wearing one. We’ve had “necks” for “drinks” before: cf “gerrit down yer neck”.

    No problems with “Gets stuck into” = DUFFS UP. Both mean to beat someone up.

    1. Early last year there was a lot of fuss about a social media craze called “NekNominate” which requires people to be videoed ‘necking’ often large quantities of alcohol and then nominating Facebook friends to take on the challenge. A sort of global drinking game ignoring any “Drink Responsibly” exhortations on bottle labels.
      1. Inevitably, more than one brewer has started making a beer called “Responsibly”, thus getting free advertising of a sort from every other producer…
  4. WIND for WING at 9ac.
    At 10ac, “fruit” is the literal. The A is from “and”.
  5. With a lot of interruptions. That would suggest an easy one, but there were quite a few unknowns and some clever wordplay.

    Never heard of DUFFS UP, does anyone actually use it?

    Liked the Spoonerless Spoonerism. Thanks setter and blogger.

    1. Quite common when I was at school on the Frozen Planet. If someone got to you, you’d have them duffed up in the back jigger later.
      1. I remember that too – and it’s not to be confused with UP THE DUFF which has a rather different connotation.
  6. 44 minutes for me, so not too bad considering the host of unknown words (e.g. SWINGBEAT, GREENMAIL) or shades of meaning. The construction of most clues must have been helpful. So JFK said he was a newspaper format, did he?
  7. Got started quickly with 1ac, but I hadn’t spotted the anagram (wondered fleetingly what ‘to begin with’ was doing), and put in CASTLES IN THE sky (which now, of course, sounds completely wrong). Eventually corrected it when I got ROASTER.

    dnk GREENMAIL (or BERLINER), so put it in hesitatingly as LOI.

    My One Error however was 1dn, where I had custard. Got the wp wrong, anyway, as I thought peaches (peachy?) = STAR.

  8. 33 minutes with similar comments to others. COD to DUFFS UP, not least for reminding me of CS Lewis’s monopod Duffers in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
  9. A fast start and a slow finish, just north of 30 minutes. Needed all the checkers for SWINGBEAT, which should have been much easier. Haven’t heard DUFFS UP for many a long year. COD to EUPHORIC.
  10. Put me down for Custard as well.

    Thanks to the setter for including a small sawbill. Could we have Merganser next week?

    1. 21:37 with custard. Glad I wasn’t the only one to think of the cherimoya fruit. Didn’t know GREENMAIL, SWINGBEAT or BERLINER. 26a my favourite.
    2. Unlike most, found this one very easy, but one wrong: the sawbill. Wrote in SMEW immediately, then thought to myself, no the duck is a SMEE, could the cat’s meow be written MEE homophonically? Indecisively changed it, O woe is me. Dictionaries confirm a SMEE is a duck, but this incipient Alzheimer’s is annoying – I remember things like SMEE, but can’t pull the phrase “CASTLES IN THE AIR” to the forefront of memory.
      Rob 15:44
  11. A serious DNF here,with CUSTARD, CASTLE SIN THE SKY, RAPPER and a tentative bird, SCOTT. Thanks blogger and congratulations to those who finished.
  12. Technically DNF as decided to resort to aids when only half done after half an hour. I did remember BERLINER eventually, from the furore when the Graun decided to go down from broadsheet format.
  13. A succession of interruptions meant a fits and starts solve here, so no time, and I couldn’t really appreciate what now looks like some different and ingenious clueing. POLO NECK SWEATER is ever so good (vinyl, ‘we necked a few beers’ is current, if not commonplace, slang), as is STANK.

    Nice to see old Choppin’ make an appearance. I was as baffled as most others by GREENMAIL but shoved it in with a shrug.

    1. ‘Necking’ beers is very commonplace in my experience. Obviously I’m mixing with the wrong sort.
      1. I honestly thought I was mixing with the wrong sort but clearly they weren’t the right wrong sort. I’ll try harder.
  14. 16:06 here, avoiding all the traps by the look of it. Never heard of GREENMAIL but figured it out once I had all the checkers, ditto SWINGBEAT. I also put in BERLINER assuming it was the name of a well-known German newspaper. Die Berliner Zeitung perhaps?
  15. 30 mins. It didn’t feel like I was on this setter’s wavelength so I was never going to post a decent time, and my time was made much worse by total brain-freeze for the NOTIFIER/AFFLUENT crossers which may have taken me as long as 10 mins at the end before I got them. It also took me a while to get the unheard of/forgotten GREENMAIL after I wasted time trying to think if there could be such an activity as “greenpall”. Not my finest piece of solving.
  16. About 45 minutes for me, so not too bad, although one mistake – not having heard of the philosopher I stuck in HEGAL. It’s obvious now that it should have been a GEL that was the posh totty – how stupid of me.

    On my screen, there is a big white gap between Vinyl’s intro comments and the actual blog, and my first thought was that his troubles had continued and he had been disconnected between starting and finishing. More likely that he rested his glass of red on the enter key and inserted a load of line breaks, but it took me a minute or two to think of scrolling down the page.

    1. Actually it was caused by an html syntax error. LJ often responds with a page of blank space for some reason. I’ve emailed him with a fix, but he’s probably offline at the moment.

      BTW, did you see the LJ message I sent you yesterday?

      1. Thanks, I hadn’t seen it, but have now, and replied, thanks for the constructive criticism, much appreciated.
  17. 19 minutes. Same unknowns as some others but all plainly clued. Alphabet trawl needed to find a male called -A-L (doh) and since I had biffed ROASTED for ‘put in oven’ it took a little while to get my LOI BERLINER.
  18. A heavy cold meant that my solving performances elsewhere this morning hadn’t been up to my usual ‘standard’ so I was quite pleased to read the comments as it took me 12:15 to solve this one, finishing with the GREENMAIL that I’d never heard of and put in after working through the alphabet.

    The apple in 1d makes regular appearances in cryptic crosswords so is well worth remembering.

  19. 30 minutes and correct but with a few guesses – Greenmail, Swingbeat, Berliner – otherwise a harder than usual but not unreasonable Monday test. Also missed the anagram at 1a but answer was obvious.
  20. 15:58. I was worried I was being slow after a heavy weekend but it looks like this was on the tricky side. Same unknowns as others, legalised and roaster not parsed.
  21. 11:07, with a few minutes at the end on my last in, BERLINER, LOATHSOME and ROASTER. I actually put ROASTER in early on but couldn’t parse it so I took it out again until I got the newspaper, which I assumed must be the name of one rather than a format.
    I was helped today by knowing the unknowns: GREENMAIL is familiar after 20-odd years in the city, and I remember SWINGBEAT. Look out for NEW JACK SWING in future. I also knew DUFFS UP, and remembered the apple and ‘peaches’ from past crosswords.
    It just goes to show that these things are much easier when you know the words.

    Edited at 2015-07-27 01:31 pm (UTC)

  22. 13.5 minutes… if I hadn’t typoed and ended up with SWIFI/ATILLA (though I do know how to spell the most famous Hun, honest) This would never happen on paper!
  23. To “peach” on someone is to inform against them, hence “rats” backwards is how this clue works.

    Eddie T in Barnham, West Sussex

  24. Nowhere near any wavelength for me today. I spent a half hour on it and put it aside about half done, and returned later for another half hour before finishing with SWINGBEAT, unknown. Also unfamiliar with GREENMAIL, DUFFS UP, peaches, neck and BERLINER. Never parsed LEGALISED, MAGNUM, or POLO NECK SWEATER. I don’t know how I finished this, but eventually everything found its way in correctly. No easy Monday for me. Regards.
  25. Is there any significance in the fact that 18ac is DREADFUL and begins ‘Very unpleasant …’, while 16dn is LOATHSOME and also begins ‘Very unpleasant …’? There may be a reason for this, but it looks as if it’s something the setter should have avoided.
  26. A depressing 16:06 for me, thwarted by a) failing to find the setter’s wavelength; b) ignorance of SWINGBEAT, BERLINER and GREENMAIL; and c) several ghastly senior moments.

    Some clever stuff there – I particularly liked 1ac.

  27. 32m all correct late solve with same unknowns as others but ok with DUFFS UP and NECKS – still common slang here in the North East. Pleasant solve overall.
  28. ‘star’ = ‘rats’ reversed. ‘Peach’ can mean ‘to rat on’. So ‘up peaches’ gives ‘star’
  29. Found this a bit of a handful but ground my way through it in around 40 mins.

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