Times 26,189: Clarence Drowns Again

Ashamed to say that I submitted this with one error – I’d done this basically back-to-back with yesterday’s puzzle, after a day returning from Wales on the train with two tired and fractious tots, and this turned out to be a Marathonian ordeal. So having just passed the 15 minute mark on the club timer, and with no less than three answers I still felt iffy about (10ac, 26ac, 24dn), I threw caution to the winds and hit the submit button. I *think* 10ac was the problem (I’d tried for OVERSHADE, which sadly doesn’t have anything to do with fevers), but if I’m wrong about that then it’s over to you lot.

I liked the vocabulary in this one, which is pitched at that slightly heightened level from real life that I’d expect Times solvers to be swanning around at, without containing anything that made me think “oh, come on, who’s ever heard of that”. We’ve had 27ac recently, haven’t we? I do feel like it comes up amazingly often for such a funny little world. I thought all the ?-employing clues were lots of fun, definitely a puzzle unafraid to push the envelope in entertaining ways, but even in the more straightforward constructions there were multiple nice surfaces to be found: 15dn, 8dn, 27ac again… really there was a lot of good stuff in here and both my thumbs find themselves in a heavenward attitude. Thanks setter!

1 DIMITY – material: DIY [not using professionals] “to gather” MIT [American university]
4 FACTORS – agents: F ACTORS [fine | performers]
9 DEMUR – object: DR [doctor] “strangles” EMU [bird]
10 OVERSTATE – colour: OVER [maiden, perhaps] + STATE [fever]
11 CONTINENT – a large part of the world: CONTIN{g}ENT [subject to chance – “not good”, i.e. minus a G]
12 WEIRD – odd: WIRED [electrically connected “back to front inside”, i.e. with the last of the middle three letters moving to become the first]
13 TROT – run: R [run] “bumping into” TOT [little kid]
14 FATHERLESS – without male role model: and “pal becomes left” when PA is removed from it to leave L, i.e. it loses its “father”
18 DEFAMATORY – vicious: D E F [successive characters] + AMATORY [passionate]
20 SPAN – compass: SPA{i}N [“one lost in” the country, i.e. minus an I]
23 ADDER – countryside hazed: ADD [tot] “meets with” ER [hesitation]
24 PROCEDURE – series of steps: PRO [for] + CURE [remedy] with ED [“one having the final word”] “accepted”]
25 SCRIVENER – scribe: (VERSE IN [“vacated”] C{ella}R*) [“translating”]
26 BLAME – responsibility: B [bishop] + LAME [barely believable]
27 MALMSEY – wine: ALMS [gift] “borne by” ME [this person] + Y [“ultimate in” {part}Y]
28 HERESY – a no-no for the faithful: HERE [at this place] + S{a}Y [“heartless” remark]

1 DEDICATED – dutiful: reverse of TA + CID [volunteers (and) police group “turned up”] in DEED [activity]
2 MEMENTO – object recalling past event: outside ENT [part of hospital], MEMO [note]
3 TURBID – muddy: reverse [“goes topsy-turvy”] of DI BRUT [girl, very dry]
4 FLEET – fast: double def with “water under London”, i.e. the river Fleet
5 CASEWORK – something “that will contribute to sociological stufy”: A SEW [a | tack] in CORK [Irish city]
6 OPALINE – somehow colourful: OP [work] + A LINE [a | way of life]
7 SPEND – exhaust: SPED [hastened] “to limit” N [nitrogen]
8 COVENANT – agreement: OVEN [kitchen appliance] “couched in” CANT [jargon]
15 HARLOTRY – immoral sexual activity: HARRY [worry] about LOT [man with bad wife (Biblically)]
16 SINCERELY – truly: SIN [wickedness] “descends on” CE [church] + RELY [bank]
17 IMPROVES – gains strength: IMP ROVES [devil | wanders around]
19 FEDERAL – in the union camp: (L{incoln} [“initially”] FEARED*) [“possibly”]
21 PLUMAGE – down: AGE [time] after PLUM [tree]
22 FEEBLE – pathetic: FEE [payment] + BLE{w} [wasted “endlessly”]
23 ASSAM – a place “that is located in India”: AS SAM [like | type of missile (i.e. surface-to-air)]
24 PENNY – girl: cryptic def based on the fact that a “bob” in the old days was made up of 12 pennies

37 comments on “Times 26,189: Clarence Drowns Again”

  1. FATHERLESS – Thanks for the explanation which eluded me although FATHERLESS seemed the obvious answer.
  2. WEIRD is the one word in my vocabulary that I simply cannot remember how to spell, so I was grateful that the I was a checker. No serious problems, aside from bunging in ‘turgid’ and wanting to bung in ‘bonus’ (onus, responsibility) at 26ac, which not uncoincidentally was my LOI. 1ac makes, I believe, the second time that MIT has been referred to correctly as a university not a college; thank you, setter. I never did figure out FATHERLESS, so thank you, Verlaine; now maybe I can sleep tonight.
    1. I got to this a day late, and when I saw the MIT wondered if we were going to discuss again – I agree it’s more a University than a College, but it’s really an Institute. Movement in the correct direction, but we’re not there yet.

      My problem was that my incorrectly spelt WIERD crossed with the equally incorrect OPULENT. I won’t detail the rest of my errors, but there were quite a few.

  3. 15.40 and I agree with Keriothe about the need to engage with the wordplay. I quite liked the slightly stretchy definitions, as in OVERSTATE and its component ‘state’. Having said that I can’t reconcile DEFAMATORY with ‘vicious’ though I wrote it in happily enough.
    1. I thought the definition for defamatory was stretching things too, but Chambers has ‘defamatory’ under ‘vicious’ in the thesaurus section.
      Having said that, I think some of the Chambers synonyms in the thesaurus are very loose. A thesaurus is, after all, a collection of loosely associated words (with emphasis on ‘loosely’). I prefer to stick with dictionary definitions or close equivalents.
      1. Which makes it one of those clues which z8b8d8k once memorably described as a three-point turn in the thesaurus. Some of them seem more tenuous than others.
        1. I whine constantly about the slightly off-centre nuances, but then I remember that one of the reasons I like the puzzle is that it is teaching me English. The difference to American is, usually, in the nuance.
          (Of course I whine less when I cleverly figure one out).
  4. 14m, but I had OVERSHADE too: I figured SHADE might have an obscure tertiary meaning I’d never heard of. I considered OVERSTATE, but couldn’t reconcile it with ‘colour’. I still struggle with it a bit but both Chambers and ODO have definitions involving exaggeration, so fair enough.
    I thought this was excellent though. I didn’t find it particularly hard but almost every clue required proper engagement with the wordplay. So thanks setter.

    Edited at 2015-08-28 08:40 am (UTC)

    1. I guess if you’re colouring a story, you’re adding colour to it, which is overstating it. I just thought “state” was a bit weak for “fever” myself… “in a state” doesn’t necessarily imply feverish to me, or am I missing another interpretation?
      1. ‘Fever’ seems fine to me, in a figurative sense: ‘a state of nervous excitement or agitation’ (ODO).
        ‘Colour’ for me means something slightly different to ‘overstate’. You can add colour to something (a picture, a story) without overstating it. A good claret tastes better with a steak but I would never accuse a sirloin of trying too hard. In this sentence:

        Broad’s eight for 15, the best figures from a fast bowler in an Ashes Test, effectively sealed the series

        the words ‘the best…Test’ add colour without overstatement.
        But it’s a subtle distinction and as I said, if the dictionaries say ‘exaggerate’, fair dos.

        Edited at 2015-08-28 10:09 am (UTC)

        1. I’m with you on fever as in “Don’t get into a fever about it” (from Anne of Green Gables, thank you Google) where fever and state are interchangeable.
    2. 30:30, but also with OVERSHADE, which was a guess as my last one in. I think that clue’s a bit of a stretch too. A steady solve – I got few answers without having to ponder. I was pleased to spot the wordplay in 14a straight away – my COD.

  5. Typical Friday offering although I thought FATHERLESS was a bit of a bastard.

    horryd Shanghai

  6. ….. presumably secondary fermentation?

    If asked, I would prefer a butt of Sancerre.

    No wonder Clarence was cross-eyed?

    35 minutes of gentle Friday solve.

  7. Another OVERSHADE, assuming it to be a painterly term beyond my ken. Had I thought of fever —> state I would have gone with that, but I didn’t, so can’t complain.

    Excellent puzzle.

    1. Not quite as testing as yesterday’s puzzle but not far off it, so 20 minutes seemed like a pretty quick solve in the circumstances. I wouldn’t say that 10ac is irredeemably faulty, but I think that any clue which is a 50-50 ball for so many solvers, myself included, should perhaps have been made less subtle. That aside, a very enjoyable challenge.
  8. 13:51 with 10a my last one in, and fortunately I plumped for ‘state’ rather than ‘shade’
    1. Completed the grid fairly quickly (for me) in around half an hour, but like others had ‘overshade’ and couldn’t parse 10ac, so thanks for the enlightenment.
  9. Glad to see I’m in esteemed company with OVERSHADE. Other than that an enjoyable puzzle which didn’t batter me as much as yesterday’s.

    Last two in were unknowns to me – TURBID and DIMITY. The latter I thought was some sort of pie but subsequent research shows I was thinking of homity.

  10. I didn’t find this as tough as yesterday’s, because I got a lot further before I hit a brick wall with gaps in the NE and 14 and 15. It didn’t help that I’d entered WIRED instead of WEIRD, thinking that the question mark before ‘Odd’ was there to obfuscate and mislead. In the end I used an aid to get 14, though the wordplay completely eluded me. I wavered between OVERSHADE and OVERSTATE, plumping for the latter only because I could see a connection between fever and state. I wasn’t that keen on the definition since ‘colour’ suggests embellishment rather than outright exaggeration, but I see Chambers gives ‘exaggerate’ for ‘colour’ so that’s a perfect justification.
  11. 23:08. I found this as difficult as yesterday’s but not as enjoyable.

    I did put overshade for 10 but a little bell went off somewhere as it didn’t sound like a fever so I tried parsing “the other way round” and eventually got it despite the stretchiness of the def and the state part.

    I thought 14 was a little inelegant with the “father” element of the wordplay being akin to the “father” part of the definition (i.e. pa = male role model). I’m not sure that PENNY quite works either

  12. A fail under competition conditions because after 23 mins I decided I would bung in OVERSHADE even though I was almost certain it had nothing to do with fever. I then used aids to find anything which fitted the checkers, saw OVERSTATE which hadn’t even occured to me, thought about the clue a little more, and decided it had to be the right answer even though I wasn’t 100% convinced by either the definition or the fever/state element of the wordplay. I also had trouble with the FATHERLESS/HARLOTRY and PROCEDURE/PENNY crossers.

    I was late to this one after a very busy day but I’m not going to use that as an excuse. I’ll be even later from Tuesday onwards because I’ll be starting a new job and I’ll probably be posting closer to Sever time.

  13. About 25 minutes, ending with OVERSTATE. I cannot say I correctly chose between OVERSTATE and OVERSHADE, because I never thought of the latter. I got it when I thought of “in a fever”=”in a state”, despite thinking that “colour” meaning OVERSTATE was quite a stretch, but at least it made some sense. I didn’t see the FATHERLESS parsing until coming here, so biffed it because it was clearly correct. I still claim an all-correct completion. And I biffed PENNY also. Regards to all.
  14. Late on parade (why does it take most of day to replace a defective printer with an identical model and after hours “chatting” on-line with and speaking on the phone to, HP support, the ***ing thing still refuses to do everything that its predecessor did?).

    That aside, I had a tough time with this puzzle last night and was pleased to get there in the end without resort to aids, but I still had OVERSHADE instead of OVERSTATE, which of course I’m still inclined to think is a bit dodgy. Definition a stretch OR wordplay a stretch, fine, but not both as on this occasion (IMO).

    Edited at 2015-08-28 04:03 pm (UTC)

    1. My sympathy, jackkt. I know exactly what you’re talking about. The closest I ever came to throwing an electronic device through a window involved a printer. One day, in a world far away, minds immeasurably superior to ours will develop a printer which, if I may borrow your word, just ***ing works!
      1. Thanks for your sympathy, sotira. In the cool of the evening I think I’ve got there now. Whoever invented wireless printers has a lot to answer for!
    1. Yes, sorry if I didn’t go into enough detail is there. Hopefully jackkt has clarified sufficiently now. “The editor’s decision is final” is a phrase that springs to mind…
    2. Mmmm 24 Down? I’m with you, being entirely unsure what ‘along with others’ is doing in the clue.
      1. Oh, d’oh, 24dn not ac? A bob was formerly made up of one penny along with (eleven) others.
        1. Well ye-e-eh … I didn’t read it that way since ‘along with others’ comes after ‘girl’ and seems to qualify that, not ‘former make-up’. Very clever and deceiving clue to the point of being a bit, I dunno, unfair?
          1. I thought this was a bit strange too. I wonder if the clue was originally just ‘Bob’s former make-up girl’, and then the setter decided (with or without editorial help) to add the extra bit because a single Penny cannot make a Bob. I’d have preferred the clue without.
    3. I imagine what you’re querying is ED for “one having the last word” which I take to refer to the Editor e.g. of a newspaper. ED for editor is standard stuff in cryptics but this indirect cluing of it seems a bit devious. I think our blogger has indicated the function of “accepted” but if you were wondering about that too, it’s an enclosure indicator telling us to put ED inside CURE – so ED is “accepted” by CURE.

      Edited at 2015-08-28 07:47 pm (UTC)

  15. 37:14 for me, so far off the setter’s wavelength that s/he was practically inaudible.

    At my usual half-hour limit, I debated going with the obvious (from the wordplay) OVERSHADE but decided I simply couldn’t find any definition that would justify it. Eventually I plumped for OVERSTATE as what seemed the least worst possible answer. Definitely not my COD!

    As with yesterday’s puzzle, there was some good stuff in there, but I can’t say I enjoyed it – though that could be just an indicator of the state of our house-buying and selling at the moment. (Please don’t ask, as at the moment the most apposite reply, to female enquirers at any rate, is: Infandum, regina, iubes renovare dolorem.” I’m still hoping we’ll get there in the end, though.)

  16. There is never any need to apologise if a crossword takes longer because of legitimate distractions. Crosswords can be done speedily or at leisure, to taste. Maybe the title of this blog is to blame!

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