Times 26347 – Just another Monday….

Solving time: 43 minutes

Music: Elgar, Enigma Variations, Boult/LSO

Well, not what I was expecting for a February 29 puzzle, but merely a routine Monday offering with a little sting at the end, mostly due to my careless misspelling of ‘mastodon’. I will have to admit some of the clueing was a bit on the subtle side, but the literals were very generous and a lot of biffing was certainly possible.

There are no really obscure words, although not everyone will be familiar with the one of the two Latin phrases proffered. There is some specialist knowledge required for some of the cryptics, however, and if you don’t have it you may be forced to guess the answer. However, if you have the crossers, your guess is likely enough to be correct.

1 EXCUSE ME, double definition, the second one somewhat unfamiliar to me.
5 THE MOB, T(HEM)O + B[ritish], where ‘to’ is the opposite of ‘ajar’.
10 RUSSIA, [p]RUSSIA, a chestnut I should have seen more quickly.
12 YEAST, YE(A)S + T. I was wondering for a moment how Yeats could be a fungus.
13 SPADEWORK, double definition, as Sam Spade was the hero of Hammett’s oeuvre.
14 SPRING ONIONS, SPRING + what the expert knows, his ONIONS.
21 TEA GARDEN, Jack TEAGARDEN, an old trombonist. If you never heard of him, you can just biff it.
23 NOISE, [l]ESION backwards.
24 OUTCRY, anagram of COURT + [jur]Y.
25 BENEDICT, BEN + EDICT. You need to know (1), that a ‘ben’ is a mountain, and (2), that a papal bull was an edict, so called from the lead seal known as a ‘bulla’.
26 SHEKEL, S + HE([s]K[i])EL. You could biff this quite easily from the literal.
27 ESOTERIC, E SOT + ERIC. A bit of chestnut, I’m afraid.
1 EMBRYO, anagram of BY ROME. I confidently tried to make the ‘y’ the last letter; no go.
2 CANCAN, CAN + CAN, my FOI, an easy starter clue.
3 SAFETY PIN, anagram of I FASTEN + [napp}Y + P[ressure], an &lit.
4 MODUS VIVENDI, anagram of DVD MOVIE IN US. I tried to make the first word ‘media’ before discovering there is no ‘a’.
6 HOUSE, H + OUSE, another easy starter clue.
7 MASTODON, MA’S (T[his]) O DON.
11 RANGEFINDERs, RANGE(FIND E)RS. I am not familiar with Scottish football, and am surprised to see that such a well-known team is not in the premier league.
16 EDITIONS, SEDITION with the ‘s’ moving to the end.
17 EMBATTLE, E M.B. + ATTLE[e]. Take ‘ready’ as a verb, as ’embattle’ means to prepare for a fight.
19 VIZIER, V(I,Z)IER. I can’t count in German, but the answer is obvious enough.
20 HECTIC, HE + C(IT upside-down)C.
22 AGREE, [g]A[m]G [o]R[d]E[r]E[d].

46 comments on “Times 26347 – Just another Monday….”

  1. I actually knew of Jack Teagarden, didn’t know he was a trombonist; but I had enough checkers to biff it. This is the second recent cryptic to have the US john, so I was prepared, although I still started by entertaining ‘loocan’ for a split second. I can count to 5 in German, which helped here; I remember VIZIER from childhood reading of the 1001 Nights (I thought it rhymed with ‘busier’). Loved BENEDICT (but not Benedict).
  2. … over a single coffee. But just a tad harder than most Mondays.

    Rangers will no doubt be back in the Scottish Premiership next year, now being 11 points clear in the Championship (the old Div. Two). And our setter perhaps missed a chance to include Scotland’s best team at 20dn??

  3. 41 minutes but with a pesky typo in a crosser. Last in the pontiff, but penultimate SPADEWORK was my favourite, especially after mixing up John Huston and Raymond Chandler at a quiz last week.
  4. 1ac is rather appropriate for 29th February. In the days of formal dances a “ladies excuse-me” was an opportunity for a woman to approach a man of her choice and ask him to dance with her. By tradition Leap Year Day can serve a similar function in the marriage stakes.

    A very enjoyable puzzle that took me 37 minutes with some delay in the NE corner where I struggled with the intersecting beast and Hammett, the latter because I couldn’t remember anything he wrote.

    According to all the sources I’ve looked at there is no River Ouse in Hampshire.

    Edited at 2016-02-29 06:01 am (UTC)

  5. 12m. No real problems this morning, although I had a brief moment of panic staring at _E_E_I_T with no idea how any part of the clue worked. Fortunately B is very close to the beginning of the alphabet. No idea about the trombone player but he wasn’t really needed.

    Edited at 2016-02-29 07:51 am (UTC)

  6. I must admit to trying to square HAVON with HAVEN without success until I accepted a possible error in the compiler’s geography, as Jack points out (as far as I’m aware the Sussex Ouse does not stray into Hampshire).
    Held up by having 7,2 not 2,7 in 15a, which did not help in the slightest.
    21a duly biffed as instructed.
    35 minutes including the two blind alleys above.
  7. Harder than the average Monday, so I was delighted to get the unknown VIZIER from the unknown VIER (I can only count to three in German) just inside the 30-minute mark.

    But in my haste to finish, I forgot to go back and count the vowels in 4dn, and was undone by a careless VIVENDO.

    Oh well, them’s the breaks. Thought EMBRYO was a really good clue.

    Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  8. About 45mins for a lucky all-correct considering the amount of u/k gk: Teagarden, Hammett, course of the Ouse (!). Ended with BENEDICT, partly because I had a typo in at one of the crossers, but mostly because it took ages to spot the requisite meanings of see and bull.
  9. I am pleased that it is 4 years until the next February 29th. I began with PARDON ME and HAVON so the knock on effect was considerable. I even thought CELTIC might be the club in 20d to balance out RANGERS. I liked EMBRYO and THE MOB.
  10. Twenty minutes, with concern over the non existent Hampshire Ouse and a smile for spade work.
  11. Easy this morning even for me at 20 minutes. Rangers suffered football’s equivalent of excommunication, something my team have been dicing with in England.
  12. Never heard of Jack Teagarden but the answer was fairly obvious. I always though that THE MOB was a euphemism for the British army.
  13. 20.07, stumbling to a close with BENEDICT, while mildly thinking “has Ratty died, then?” How good to know there are 15 dead Benedicts to maintain the convention.
    TEAGARDEN was not known to me (I’m more of a beer garden man, myself) but I’m happy to take the setter’s word for it. Equally (but I see mistakenly) that Hampshire has an Ouse – though now I no longer believe that every county has one, on the say so of my honourable and learned friends in this House.
    Do modern paparazzi use rangefinders? I think we should be told.
    And has anyone tried using a safety pin on a nappy recently? Why?
  14. 8 minutes on the nose, but after clicking submit and finding myself one off I checked and I’d entered “MASTODO” instead of “MASTODON”. Almost sure I typed it in correctly the first time and no idea how I could have managed to untype that N! Oh well, you can’t fight advancing senility I guess…

    Like everyone else I ended on the difficult BENEDICT.

    Edited at 2016-02-29 11:06 am (UTC)

  15. A mid-morning 11 min solve, helped by having had a decent night’s sleep. I’m back to work tomorrow for a few days ahead of my two week holiday in the US which starts on Saturday, so I’ll be back to early evening solving for the rest of the week. After Friday I won’t be doing another puzzle until Mar 21 and I fully expect it to seem like it is a foreign language. Anyway, back to this puzzle, I seemed to be on the wavelength straight away, and my only blip was being so confident that 13ac was going to end in “book” when I only had the O and K checkers that I wrote it in, and it was only after I got its first checker from MODUS VIVENDI that the penny dropped. I was probably fortunate that I saw BENEDICT relatively quickly, and EMBATTLE was my LOI after OUTCRY.
  16. 18.37 with no real holdups, just slow iPad-poking. I wonder about the Ouse. There is no reason for the setter to be so specific on the county so perhaps we are missing something. Am also confused as to why paparazzi need rangefinders but it had to be.
    1. I was thinking the same, bigtone, re Ouse. “The English name for the river derives from its Celtic name Usa, from *udso-, “water,” so River Ouse is ‘River water’ or something. But why specifically Hampshire I don’t know.

      Edited at 2016-02-29 12:30 pm (UTC)

      1. As well as Ouse meaning water Avon and Stour are both old words for river

        I don’t know of an Ouse in Hants – main river I guess is the Itchen which runs into Southampton

        1. Given that none of us has yet been able to discover an Ouse in Hampshire, should not the setter now come clean and either show us where the Hampshire Ouse is to be found or else explain how the clue can be alternatively parsed to take account of the Hampshire reference?

          That apart, a most enjoyable puzzle.

  17. 40 minutes after trouble in the NE, wondering if HAVEN had an alternative spelling, HAVON. I certainly knew of no OUSE in Hampshire. A bit of an old-fashioned feel to this – Dashiell Hammett, Jack Teagarden (Who he?) and paparazzi who use rangefinders! They must have some very ancient cameras.
  18. It started life as the acronym BIFD, which stands for Bunged In From Definition, and was coined, if memory serves, by Grestyman, one of the regular contributors here. It then took on a life of its own.
  19. 11:44. It was only when I finished writing PARDON ME at 1a that I realised it was wrong but at least I stopped at YEAT before correcting to yeast.

    LOI BENEDICT, hot on the heels of EDITIONS.

    In case you’re still wondering about Rangers, Vinyl, they went bust in 2012 and the replacement team had to start off in the fourth tier of Scottish football, the Third Division. And if you’re wondering why the fourth tier is called the Third Division I won’t bother explaining as it’s now called League Two, naturally.

  20. Found this quite tricky today coming in around the 30 minute mark. Bunging in “ergot” at 12 ac did not help – I did think “ergo” was a bit of a stretch for “definitely”. LOI was “cancan”. Always happy to see some Latin in the answers.
  21. No problems here either, despite not knowing Mr. Teawhomever. Easy start to the week. Regards.
  22. Took me a while to settle in to this one as I’ve been running around all day on various medical errands occasionally grabbing a few minutes to look at a few clues, and not really getting to grips properly until this evening. I found I had FOI EMBRYO with YEAST, NO CONTEST and —— ONIONS to work with and eventually worked my way round the grid, finishing with SHEKELS after BENEDICT and the unknown but easily biffable TEA GARDEN. Had a chuckle at SPADEWORK, and liked ESOTERIC. Probably over an hour all told. John

    Edited at 2016-02-29 10:02 pm (UTC)

  23. 9:45 here for a pleasant, straightforward start to the week – rather slow for a puzzle that was really right up my street, but I guess that’s just Anno Domini taking its toll.
  24. Well, this must be one of the few occasions when I’ve been within spitting distance of our esteemed blogger’s time – 51 minutes for me.

    I struggled badly with HOUSE/RUSSIA and, despite originating from Hampshire (or Ampsher as it’s known locally), I was quite happy to believe that the Ouse flowed through it when the penny finally dropped. BENEDICT also held me up a little.

    Overall, I think I got my value for money from this one. Very chewy for a Monday.

  25. A team that was formed in 2012 and has never played in the Premiership can’t get back there!

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