Times 26,171: Oil That Is, Black Gold, Texas Tea

A really very straightforward crossword today to round off a not especially strenuous week. I did this the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper – got to remember how those elegant weapons for a more civilised age work before mid-October! – and according to my stopwatch it actually took me longer than the last two puzzles: still under the 10 minute mark, but only by a whisker.

Looking back over it, I can’t see what the speedbumps could have been; I had a couple of vocab unknowns at 5ac and 14ac, but in both those cases and anywhere else where a glimmer of obscure knowledge game into play (13ac, 24dn) the wordplay couldn’t have simpler. An unusually high number of people in this grid, I did notice, but all major celebrities apart arguably from the aforementioned WALTON. Certainly no one as likely to give pause as Wednesday’s EARWICKER. The miraculous properties of ink technology allow me to see that I biffed in ALARM at 22d before correcting, but that was just being silly. Sometimes Friday is just “the end of a long week”… Thanks setter for an elegant puzzle.

1 SCRAPE – pickle: SCRAP [bit to eat] + E [“last portion of” {chees}E]
5 TAFFRAIL – ship’s bar: A F F [A | couple of females] having TRAIL [to chase] around
9 JUMPED UP – double def: suddenly started / arrogant
10 GUSHER – “well, maybe”: SHE [woman] “wearing” reversed RUG [wig “the wrong way”]
11 SCAREDY-CAT – chicken: SCAT [be off] “packing” C [cold] + (READY*) [“cooked”]
13 ALTO – singer: {w}ALTO{n} [English composer (i.e. Sir William Turner Walton) “has no tips”]
14 TIAN – vegetable dish: TIN [can] “filled with” A
15 SIMON PETER – disciple: PETER [safe] after M [mass] in SION [part of Jerusalem]
18 SLAGGED OFF – badmouthed: reversed EG GALS [say, girls “turning”] + FF [very loud] after DO [party]
20 CRAM – to prepare for exam: CR{e}AM [top set “lacks energy”, i.e. minus an E]
21 BALM – that will soothe the skin: “some” {her}BAL M{edication}, and semi-&lit
23 BEAUTY SPOT – attractive place: (PAST YOU BET*) [“refurbished”]
25 SAILOR – “one in the main”: SO R [quite | right] “to conceal” AIL [trouble]
26 LAS VEGAS – US city: (SAVAGES*) [“gathered”] near L [large]
28 HEBRIDES – isles: H.E. [ambassador] + RIDES [travels] beyond B [British]
29 WESLEY – preacher, i.e. John: WE + reverse of YES [agreed “should retire”] about L [fifty]

2 CHURCHILL – old leader, i.e. Winston: CHUR{l} [an ill-bred fellow “mostly”] + CHILL [cold]
3 ASPIRIN – R I [“foremost among” R{emedies} I{f}] in A SPIN [a tizzy] &lit
4 EID – festival, e.g. Eid al-Fitr: reverse of DIE [decline “to turn up”]
5 TOPIC – subject for discussion: TOPI [what to wear when it’s sunny] + C [constant, i.e. the speed of light]
6 FIGHTING FIT – really healthy: FIGHTING [struggling] + FIT [to become]
7 RESTATE – say, again: R [queen] going over ESTATE [area such as Sandringham]
8 IDENT – image on screen: {k}I{d}D{i}E{s} N{o}T{e} [“regularly deleted”]
12 DISMEMBERED – in pieces: and “being thrown out of a club”, humorously, might be to be dis-membered from it
16 MAO – Chinese statesman, i.e. Chairman Zedong: reverse of AM [American “promoted”] + O [over]
17 ELABORATE – detailed: ORATE [talk publicly] “supporting” E LAB [English | political party]
19 GAMBLER – better: G AMBLE R [good | walk | run]
20 COSSETS – overprotects: COS SETS [lettuce | plants]
22 AMAZE – floor: reverse of MA [mother “lifted”] + {l}AZE [“covering off” lounge]
24 ATLAS – double def: size of paper once (26¼ x 34 in, apparently) / maps
27 SAW – double def: caught sight of / gnome (of the apophthegmatic not garden variety)

37 comments on “Times 26,171: Oil That Is, Black Gold, Texas Tea”

  1. Agree with Verlaine and Jack, pretty straightforward despite the unknowns.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    Now I’m getting out of here before the mob turns up, but let me echo Michael Clarke in congratulating England on an outstanding day’s cricket yesterday. Simply too good in all facets.

  2. 30mins. About average. Took an age to see ASPIRIN (good clue). I agree with others that the cluing prevented the unknowns from becoming ungettable.

    Many thanks, V, and to all our bloggers.

  3. TAFFRAIL was easy – I traveled on one of their trains to Cardiff last week. Thought the idea of masculine brides amusing.
  4. I forgot to record my starting time, but I think I was just sub-20 minutes on this one, which is very good for me. It all flowed along nicely once I had made a start in the SE corner. Didn’t know TIAN or ATLAS as a paper size, but the wordplay could not have been simpler to unravel when aided by checkers. TAFFRAIL took a bit of dredging up but I know I have met it in puzzles many a time in the past.

    V, is there a prize for recognising your heading is from The Ballad of Jed Clampet by Earl Scruggs?

    Edited at 2015-08-07 08:06 am (UTC)

    1. Yes! Obviously GUSHER put me in mind of Texan wells, but I also associate (Jon-Boy) WALTON with The Beverley Hillbillies… can’t recall if there’s any actual link or if the halcyon days of my childhood gawping at terrible American reruns have all just blended into one.
      1. I don’t know of any connection.

        A correction to my earlier comment,the song was written by TBH producer and writer Paul Henning not by Earl Scruggs,though Scruggs performed it with Lester Flatt and vocalist Jerry Scoggins.

      2. Reruns? Yoinks. When I watched the Beverley Hillbillies I think it was just a run, and Ma and Pa Walton hadn’t even starting mating yet.
        1. My lifespan does intersect with The Waltons’ run at least, but it’s pretty close…
  5. 24 minutes, but the Club site says I have one wrong and I can’t for the life of me see which one. Quite a few unknowns but nothing to scare the horses.

    Right, I am leaving the office early in order to make sure I get to watch some cricket…

    V, you need to fix 15a.

  6. Just under 10 minutes for me, straightforward as Verlaine says. CHUR(L) sprang quickly to mind as I’m ploughing through C J Sansom’s Shardlake series and there are churls all over the place. SCRAPE was my LOI.
  7. 9 mins. If I had come across TIAN before I had forgotten it, and it was my LOI after I decided it couldn’t be anything else from the wordplay. Count me as another who didn’t know that ATLAS is also an old paper size. The clue for GUSHER was my favourite.
    1. I pretty much assumed that a TIAN was some kind of oriental dish, until I looked it up afterwards…
    2. I’ve certainly seen “A tian of…” something on restaurant menus but I can’t remember what the something might have been.
  8. 10:53. Was hoping for a sub-10 but I hit the wall with Churchill, scrape and aspirin. What didn’t help at 2d was that I was half-looking for a non-existent pangram (I’d noted Z and J) and that U at letter 3 was mighty tempting for a Q.

    Half an eyebrow raised at “promoted” for an inverticator in the clue for Mao but I guess it’s justified as putting/sending/[insert your own verb here] up.

    Walton’s dead famous isn’t he? I’m no Andrew Preview and he’s one of a handful of English classical composers I know.

  9. Coming to this after a brain-mangling solving/blogging session elsewhere, I was delighted to find this one straightforward enough to solve in just over 6 mins. (Once again too lazy to get up from the garden chair to find phone with stopwatch facility).
  10. 7:34. I thought I’d try solving in the evening (EST) for this puzzle and it doesn’t seem to have done me any harm. Nothing much to add really.
    Livejournal’s looking rather smart this morning.
  11. I thought 9 across was ‘suddenly started’for jumped and ‘arrogant’ for up.
    I see that today’s obituary of George Cole says that he inherited a lifelong devotion to the Times crossword from Alastair Sim.
    Finally, has anyone else found that today this site’s format looks very different from previously on an i phone?
    John HM Proctor
    1. I thought 9 across was ‘suddenly started’ for jumped and ‘arrogant’ for up.

      Hmm, possibly, but then where’s the definition part?

    2. I parsed 9ac the same as the blogger; I think ‘up’ as ‘arrogant’ might be stretching things – ‘up him/her-self’ maybe, but not on its own.
  12. Busy week, haven’t been able to check in much – I found this one pretty breezy though I didn’t see the wordplay for ALTO, TIAN went in from wordplay and JUMPED UP got a little question mark.
  13. I got CHURCHILL for the wrong reason – I thought the ill-bred fellow might be URCHI(N) inside CHILL, without realising that I was using the I twice – silly me.

    Good fair puzzle, but I’m not revealing my time out of embarrassment.

  14. About 20 minutes, ending with ASPIRIN, after having a bit of a struggle with the entire NE section. I thought GUSHER as ‘well, maybe’ is just superb. Well done setter, thanks to Verlaine, and regards.
  15. Probably more so than Jeremiah C-LARK-e, he of Trumpet Voluntary fame, who would seem to provide an alternative answer to 13 ac.

    505 survivor

    1. The English composer I was initially trying to shoehorn in there was ARNE, though fortunately I couldn’t find even slim justification for that…
  16. This new format of the. Blog does not allow us to see comments on the iPad. Another upgrade that performs worse than its predecessor. Was the BBC involved by any chance?
    1. It works fine on my Galaxy but I had problems with my Samsung phone. Apparently there’s no LJ app version that runs on it any more so I have been accessing using Chrome. Since today’s changes I could read the blog but the comments wouldn’t open so I installed Firefox as an alternative browser and it works perfectly.

      Edited at 2015-08-07 10:55 pm (UTC)

      1. Thanks for the info, but when I go to open the app there’s a message from LJ saying “Sorry we don’t support versions below 4 because of compatibility issues”. I think the app stopped working a year or more ago and I have been viewing TftT in Chrome since then until yesterday when I found Comments no longer open up.
  17. Oh dear! Not a good week. A miserable 13:47 for me, totally off the setter’s wavelength. At this rate I can see myself failing to make the top 25, let alone the top 12, in my preliminary in October.

    This week has certainly exposed my ignorance, with TIAN, IDENT and ATLAS (with the required meaning) all unknown today. (TIAN looked as if it might be Mandarin, but didn’t ring any bells. Damn these foodie clues!)

    Unfortunately I too started off trying to match ARNE to 13ac, and then got stuck trying to think of other 4-letter composers – particularly galling as Walton is fresh in my mind as this week’s “Composer of the Week” on Radio 3.

    1. Because it can be. S/Zion is often enough used for the whole of Jerusalem,  but technically Sion is just the hill occupied by Temple Mount and David’s version of the city. Lots of other hills complete the whole.

  18. Oh dear. DNF for me, so I can only assume that my crossword neuron has apoptosed through neglect.

    Completely failed to get SCRAPE, ASPIRIN and AMAZE, though I can’t for the life of me see why.

  19. About 20 mins; no problems, as the clueing for unknowns (TIAN, TAFFRAIL) was generous.

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