Times 26179 – Poet’s advice, say?

Solving time: 36 minutes

Music: Bert Jansch, Moonshine

This puzzle was quite difficult for a Monday offering, and I was quite pleased at how quickly I was able to unravel some of the clues. Fortunately, some of these obscure words have been seen before fairly recently, and one of them at least was right up my alley. For me, ‘sensilla’ was my LOI and the hardest of the unknown ones.

I personally recommend tonight’s musical selection as one of Bert’s top albums. He is accompanied by some very fine musicians, with one track including Thea King on clarinet. I wonder what she thought of that gig? I suppose it makes a bit of a change from the Rawsthorne concerto.

1 GOLLUM, G(O,L)LUM, a fine &lit.
5 PARTISAN, PA(ARTIS[t])N. A ‘partisan’ is also “a spearhead mounted on a long shaft, usually wooden, with protrusions on the sides which aided in parrying sword thrusts”….not to give the setters any ideas.
9 RETAINER, double definition, an easy starter clue, and my FOI.
10 MALLET, M(ALL)ET. I thought for a long time that ‘made contact’ was the literal.
11 SFORZATO, anagram S(anagram of OF TZAR)O. We’ve had this within the past month with nearly the same clue, so no excuses.
12 COBWEB, double definition, one from Midsummer Night’s Dream.
13 LAUDANUM, LAUD + A + N + U + M.
15 HWYL, first letters of H[ow] W[ould] Y[ou] L[imit]. Although I had no prior knowledge of this word, I entered it with great confidence and no checking letters – what else could it be?
17 OMSK, O(MS)K, where MS is the common abbreviation for micro-second millisecond. The city itself came up in our recent discussion of Tomsk, which see.
19 BEWILDER, BE WILDER. Curiously, not yet a chestnut, as far as I know.
21 YOUNGISH, anagram of GUY ON HIS, with an outstandingly smooth surface.
22 TRIODE, anagram of TO RIDE. I biffed this in from the literal, although ‘tube’ is US-speak for what they would call a ‘valve’ in the old country.
23 UNTANGLE, the obvious answer, and the only word that fits. But I don’t see how the cryptic works, so audience participation is invited. Kevin Gregg has given the correct solution in the first comment!
3 LEAF ROLL, LEAF + ROLL. This is a disease of potatoes, and ‘Mozart’ and ‘Vivaldi’ are varieties of potato! I leaned on the cryptic and didn’t worry too much about the literal, thinking it might be CRS.
4 MINIATURE, M(IN + I)ATURE, where ‘baby’ as the sense of ‘the smallest size’.
5 PERSONALITY CULT, anagram of RESULTANT POLICY. I could not see this until I had nearly all the checkers.
6 TEA ROOM, TEAR + O + OM, i.e. Order of Merit.
7 SILKWORM, SILK + ROW backwards + M.
8 NOTEBOOK, N(anagram of TO BE)OOK.
14 UNDAUNTED, UND(AUNT)ED, where UNDED sounds like ‘undead’. One of my last ones in, but not really that hard.
15 HIAWATHA, HI[s] A[x] WA[s] TH[e] A[x], a brilliant clue that I unfortunately biffed in from the literal.
18 SENSILLA, ALLI(S,N)ES, all upside down. My LOI, very tricky. This might be easier for those who know the word.

53 comments on “Times 26179 – Poet’s advice, say?”

  1. This had me for a while, too, but: TAN (‘bronze’) in BUNGLE sans B (‘book’)
  2. I saw myself running over the half-hour, but then suddenly 5ac (LOI), 12ac, 7d, & 8d all gave up their secrets within about 10 seconds. DNK LEAF ROLL, but trusted the checkers + wordplay. DNK SENSILLA, as well, and wasted some time on ‘sensoria’ until I finally twigged about ‘NATO countries’. Not only did we have SFORZATO recently, we had the suspect spelling of ‘tzar’ as well; a freebie today. MS is the abbreviation for millisecond; microsecond is (I can’t type the Greek) muS.
  3. … when I see the double-E grid coming off the printer. My usual strategy is to go for 15ac and 17ac first, so as to get 4 starting and 4 finishing letters. When it doesn’t work, as this morning, things tend to slow down a bit.

    With Vinyl, thought the clue for HIAWATHA was well done; nicely hdden.

    Wot … no mention of Jason Day?

    1. …as we move seamlessly (and silently) this week from rugby to golf. And let’s hope no-one has noticed our tennis players.
  4. Recognized SFORZATO immediately from when we had it a few weeks ago, but still couldn’t remember what order the letters went in until all the checkers were in place. Will be sure to remember it for next time (yeah, right).

    Tough for a Monday, but I have no explanation for why I needed assistance to get SILKWORM. Could be a long week.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  5. After a very difficult weekend of puzzles (and much of last week wasn’t exactly a doddle) I thought I was in for a sub-30 solve on this one, and indeed I would have been well within my target here but for two clues, so I’m feeling a bit grumpy.

    I didn’t know SENSILLA, though I suppose SENS- was going to be on the cards with a definition that included “detectors”, but I couldn’t make sense of the rest of it. “NATO countries” is an example of “allies” anyway, so a “perhaps” or a question mark might have been in order.

    As for LEAF ROLL, I suppose I should have just bunged it in from the two literal definitions in the wordplay and moved on, but none of the rest of it made any sense to me so I felt obliged to stick with it until I understood more, either the overall definition or what the hell Mozart and Vivaldi had to do with the price of fish. To be honest I think its a bit much expecting us to recognise the names of varieties of seed potato that don’t appear as such in any of the usual sources.

    Edited at 2015-08-17 05:41 am (UTC)

    1. My feelings exactly, jackkt, except that I never did bung in LEAF ROLL because it didn’t make any sense to me.


    2. Same here, I had no idea what LEAF ROLL was all about until reading the blog, assumed it was some kind of complicated musical trill. And SENSILLA looked right to my Latin-trained eyes, but wasn’t parsed until after I had the submit button. If I waste time on doing that sort of thing I’d have to waste time checking for silly typos, and then where would I be?
  6. Fell asleep after being up from the early hours watching Justin Rose attempt to win at that wonderful Wisconsin course. (Puts the US Open venue to shame.) But congratulations to the Aussie-Filipino on a masterful display. What a treat for the golfing world to have three players of such class all under 28 from three different continents, with a bunch of South Africans always on hand to crash the party!

    Oh, puzzle-wise, I had the same unknowns as everyone else, was very slow onto Uncle Joe’s clue and finished in the TEA ROOM, of all places.

    [Apologies to Gallers for inadvertently posting this first as a reply to his contribution.]

    Edited at 2015-08-17 06:17 am (UTC)

    1. Was cheering for Day, but I’ve been a big fan of young Spieth since he won the Aussie Open last Summer.

      Loved the thumbs-up he gave when Day effectively sealed the tournament with that putt on the 17th. Class act.

  7. A very interrupted solve but probably around 15 minutes of solving/biffing.

    Is HWYL here a noun, as in a transport of delight?

    1. ODO has:
      (in Welsh use) a stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy. the hwyl is back in London Welsh.
      New to me.
      1. yes, I found that same definition online, but I’m not sure it entirely answers my question. What’s the def. in the clue? Is it transport (n.)?
        1. You’ve got to be Welsh to understand hwyl, sotira ; an indefinable longing for something like beating the English at rugby ! p.s. It’s welsh transport but nothing to do with the railways!

          Edited at 2015-08-17 08:10 am (UTC)

            1. My knowledge of the concept comes entirely from Six Nations rugby commentary, as you can guarantee a mention during the anthems at the Millennium Stadium. Attempts to define it usually start by explaining that the concept is indefinable, making the commentator’s job difficult.
              1. That’s why barracuda’s comment made me think of suadade, definitions of which always start by saying it’s indefinable and “You’ve got to be Portuguese …”
                1. The other side of this particular coin is something everyone knows but for which there is no totally satisfactory English word. The usual example is SCHADENFREUDE.
          1. I forgot to say, barracuda, that when ‘solving’ this I assumed Hewl was a character in Ivor the Engine! We had Gollum, I thought, so why not?

            Edited at 2015-08-17 11:51 am (UTC)

  8. 3 down is simply the setter showing his lack of knowledge of spuds.

    Leaf roll is a problem for the Mozart ‘variety’ – correct.

    But not so with ‘Vivaldi’ which was specially bred to have a high resistance to leaf roll!

    Dear me – we should all get our money back and the setter should be confined to the naughty-chair whilst he comes up with a proper clue!


  9. Sub-8 minutes but with one error; I don’t normally make excuses for my slapdash nature but on this occasion there were semi-naked children demanding bananas and trying to run out into the dewy early morning garden, occasioning a lot of shouting, so I feel like I might have been alright under kinder circumstances.

    Anyway my typo was to put in PERSONALITY CURT for the Stalin clue. I can see where my subconscious was coming from, and I’m just glad it went with an R!

  10. Bleary eyed after watching golf until the wee small hours, 26 minutes, all correct but LEAF ROLL and SENSILLA put in from word play with no understanding. Clues around disease resistant potatoes are a step too far for a Monday morning.

    As an &lit GOLLUM will take some beating this week for excellence.

    And well done Andy for beating Novak for once. US Open next?

  11. Twenty-three minutes, with which I was very happy until I realized I had “sfortazo” instead of “SFORZATO”. I think “scherzo” was probably in the back of my mind causing the confusion; or it may have been the Merlot which was more at the front of my mind.

    Agonised over LEAF ROLL for quite a while, and failed to appreciate the potato reference. Also failed to parse UNTANGLE, so thanks to Kevin for that one.

    Somewhat concerned to see polo making an appearance, just after I’d mastered all the obscure terms from cricket.

  12. 25:42. Like others I couldn’t remember the order of letters for 11a. I took ages to see PERSONALITY CULT, was looking for a statue in 23a and just biffed 15d, which was a shame as it is such a good clue. LOI was 10a, when I eventually remembered polo is played with a long-handled croquet stick.
  13. 15 minutes with the same bumps in the road as most, though I got there in the end, even if the most troublesome ones went in without any sort of understanding (I could have attempted to parse 3d all afternoon without getting anywhere near it). Unexpectedly testing for a Monday, then, but every day’s a schoolday in Crosswordland.
  14. 3 down is simply the setter showing his lack of knowledge of spuds.

    Leaf roll is a problem for the Mozart ‘variety’ – correct.

    But not so with ‘Vivaldi’ which was specially bred to have a high resistance to leaf roll!

    Dear me – we should all get our money back and the setter should be confined to the naughty-chair whilst he comes up with a proper clue!


  15. 15 mins, although unlike others I finished in the NE with PARTISAN after SILKWORM. I was solving on paper and did myself no favours by trying to write TEA ROOM into 7dn instead of 6dn, so my grid was a bit of a mess in that quadrant. Like others I trusted the wordplay for LEAF ROLL and SENSILLA, and you can add my tip of the hat to the setter for the GOLLUM clue.
  16. Glad to see others equally flummoxed by this. I thought it might be something like an early piano roll invented by the infant phenom Mozart. Then I wondered if there were reefers street-named after the composers. Never got near the potatoes. I liked UNDAUNTED. 22.22. P.S. Haven’t seen the foregoing machete-wielder lately – busy summer in the ER perhaps?

    Edited at 2015-08-17 09:58 am (UTC)

  17. 18:16 for me so definitely on a (leaf) roll. Many just biffed though. Good to see Old Scrotum, Sir Henry Rawlinson’s faithful wrinkled retainer, getting a mention.

    Edited at 2015-08-17 02:03 pm (UTC)

  18. About 40 minutes for me, which is a long time for a Monday, reflecting some of the problems others have reported above. RETAINER went straight in, quickly followed by PERSONALITY CULT, which I saw very quickly, so I thought I was off to a flyer, but then things rapidly decelerated. I too got LEAF ROLL without making any connection to potatoes until I thought about it after completion, and admit to biffing HWYL and HIAWATHA. Nice challenge for a Monday. Laugh of the day to Verlaine’s typo confession.
  19. 11:56 with SENSILLA being the last one in.

    I do hope Verlaine isn’t going to bring semi-naked banana-demanding children with him in October – it will be very off-putting.

    1. “Just go play with Uncle Magoo over there for an hour, there’s a pair of good girls…”
  20. Just to be even more pedantic, the abbreviation for millisecond is “ms” (all lower case). An “MS” is a megasiemens – not a unit that you’re ever likely to meet.
  21. In 15d, how does ‘cutting everything’ indicate chopping off the ends? Linda Lofthouse
    1. . . . everything (apart from the definition) gets cut, ie shortened. Thats how I read it. Welcome aboard, Linda
  22. Yes, a bit tough for a Monday but I got through despite the unknowns. Mine were probably the same as everyone else’s, the LEAF ROLL, SENSILLA and the very unusual Welsh thing. LOI was SENSILLA. Enough persons here have already beaten the setter up over the potato clue, which I certainly didn’t know at all either, so no need to add more. Easy wordplay and trust needed to solve that clue. Regards to all.
  23. Why are you all so obsessed with the time it takes you to solve these puzzles? Why not simply enjoy the experience and relish the ingenuity of the clues? I dont care how long it takes me as long as I do finish it eventually. Are you all in a race or something?
    1. The blog is called “Times for the Times”; if you follow the link “About this blog” at the top, you’ll find an explanation of the title. Nobody states their times in order to show off (and in any case, I don’t think you can reasonably claim to discern whether someone has enjoyed a puzzle or not because they note what the timer says). If people did nothing but state how long they took, you might have a point, but I’d suggest most contributors are far more interested in discussing the quality of the day’s puzzle, good or bad, not to mention a variety of subjects from the world outside.

      Why not sign in as an identifiable person and join the discussion? Nobody will insist you give your time…

    2. What exactly do you expect to find when you visit a site dedicated to the Times crossword that’s called “Times For The Times”? You do your thing, we’ll do ours, though you’d be most welcome to join us as we have a number of contributors for whom time taken isn’t a particular consideration. A name or pseudonym added to your postings would be polite if you don’t want to sign up for a (free) Live Journal account.

  24. 19m, in two goes because jet lag caught up with me. At that point I had about half of it done, and was struggling. When I woke up I pretty much wrote the rest of the clues in on sight. So I think I solved half of this puzzle in my sleep.
    I enjoyed this: minimal biffing, quite a few constructed from wordplay. I have no problem with the potato disease: in fact I rather liked the clue. I didn’t not know what you needed to know for this clue any more than I didn’t know what you needed to know for 18dn. As long as the wordplay is accessible it’s all fine by me.
    I had more of a problem with 1ac personally. I always get slightly irritated when all that hobbit nonsense is treated as if it’s literature.
    [runs away]
    1. I think Clive James has presented the case for the prosecution most eloquently:

      ‘I still haven’t forgiven CS Lewis for going on all those long walks with JRR Tolkien and failing to strangle him, thus to save us from hundreds of pages dripping with the wizardly wisdom of Gandalf and from the kind of movie in which Orlando Bloom defiantly flexes his delicate jaw at thousands of computer-generated orcs. In fact it would have been ever better if CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien could have strangled each other, so that we could also have been saved from the Chronicles of Narnia.’

      1. Amen to that. I wonder what Clive James has to say about science fiction.
        [runs away again]
        1. There’s science fiction and there’s science fiction. Isaac Asimov is another (along with Tolkien & Lewis) who should have been drowned at birth; but if you want an hilarious, satirical science fiction book, try Roderick by John Sladek.
          Plot synopsis: the story of a young robot growing up, with the usual childhood episodes – hunted by the CIA, kidnapped by gypsies, sold into slavery, joining the circus, adopted by cross-dressing communists, getting sent to catholic school after causing trouble at the local public school, reaching puberty, being hung by a racist lynch-mob wielding pitchforks and flaming torches etc.
          Puzzle: easyish, except for 2 or 3 hard bits, and ultimate failure – guessed (unparsed) LEAD ROLL as something operatic for Mozart and Vivaldi. Except now I realise I was thinking about Verdi.
  25. 13:34 for me, not really on the setter’s wavelength – and not knowing LEAF ROLL and SENSILLA, though the latter came easily enough from the wordplay once I had a couple of crossing letters in place.

    Like others, I didn’t recognise the potatoes in the clue for the former, though the definition of “leaf roll” in OOD (“virus disease of potatoes marked by upward curling of the leaves”) was a bit of a give-away when I looked it up after I’d finished. I don’t recall seeing them in the Ealing branch of M&S though. (I’m impressed by Horryd’s expert knowledge. I trust the setter and editor have taken note.)

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