Times 26356 – for the 25 of Mr. Kite, vale George Martin

Solving time : 11:19, which places me fourth on the club timer, just over three hours after this puzzle appeared (I solved it right away but had to run some errands, so this report is coming up a little later than usual).

I’m just over a minute behind verlaine, so this might be on the medium to tricky level. While solving I thought we might be headed to a pangram, but there doesn’t appear to be a J or a Z in the grid.

Whisky and soda in hand, let’s knock this out!

Away we go…

1 IMMATURE: I’M MA then an anagram of TRUE
5 SWATCH: S (South, player in bridge), then WATCH
11 MASTERY: grasp – MY containing ASTER
12 EDIFICE: anagram of DEFICIENT without NT
15 GUSTO: S in GUT, then O
18 HET UP: H(ostil)E, TUP
20 RING MAIN: power source – RING(syndicate), MAN(staff) holding I(current)
23 CURTEST: TEST(check) with CUR(bad egg)
25 BENEFIT: good – BEEF containing N, then IT
27 DITHER: D, then (e)ITHER
28 WHITE TIE: WHIT(shred) then alternating letters in nExT fIlE
1 INFAMY: INF(o) then A, MY(good lord)
3 TAIL END: back – AIL in TEND
4 RANGY: Y(outh) with RANG(contacted) in the front
6 WAIVING: sounds like WAVING
7 TUTSI: 1’S TUT all reversed
8 HORSE BOX: HORSE(drug) BOX(belt) – I was trying to figure out how TOW meant “belt”
14 HERITAGE: you shouldn’t ask a woman HER AGE (if you do, cover it up by asking her weight) containing IT
16 SKINFLINT: Scrooge – SKIN(film) then FLING(cast) missing G, then T
17 SHACKLED: S, then HACK(journalist), L, ED
19 PREMISE: PREMISES missing an S
21 MINDSET: MINDS(guards) then TE(musical note) reversed
22 AT ONCE: ACE containing TON
24 ROAST: ROAD shortened then ST
25 BLUSH: BRUSH(skirmish) with a change of R for L

38 comments on “Times 26356 – for the 25 of Mr. Kite, vale George Martin”

  1. … medium soft but very enjoyable. Almost caught out yet again by the alt. reading of “supply” at 12ac. Good clue.

    19dn reminded me of Johnson’s quip to Boswell during an argument on a walk through London where the ladies would shout at each other from their upper storeys. “We’ll never agree. We’re just like them. Arguing from different premises”. Perhaps that’s how we got the alt. spelling “premiss”?

    Vale indeed George Martin … and also the great Jon English. (Too many deaths, too many …).

    Edited at 2016-03-10 06:37 am (UTC)

  2. 48 minutes but with no idea why so long. I never felt stuck for a moment so the brain must have been just ticking over slowly. Missing J&Z prevent the pangram.
  3. 18:22 … much trickier (for me) today, with IMMATURE, TAIL END and MASTERY all proving decidedly sticky.

    COD probably SKINFLINT, which is certainly clever.

  4. 35 minutes with no real problems. Following yesterday’s discussion I could not get Dhow out of my head for 8d until I finally solved EDIFICE
  5. Quick but sloppy, with thick fingers scuppering my chances of a fleeting appearance on the leaderboard. Why can’t the online version have autocorrect? 23 minutes. Never got round to parsing EDIFICE, so thanks for that, G.
  6. 18.46, with the last one in and time waster 2d MARES NEST. One of those phrases which I’ve never really had cause to use, so in the basket with pigs’s breakfast, dog’s dinner and other mammalian possessions, with no heretofore generated connection to “false alarm”. I finally conceded the clue had nothing to do with Mark Twain, that well known not-steersman, and that there were in fact exactly the right number of letters for an anagram.
    I liked SKINFLINT too, but not the concept. Refusing G&T?
  7. Much the same comment and time as Jack
    COD 16dn SKINFLINT I also thought 10ac FOREIGN MINISTER was quite natty.

    horryd Shanghai

  8. Back in the land of the living after 80mph winds and flooding yesterday. Found this straightforward without being too easy. No real stand out clues.
  9. I always connect this with a Rupert Bear story I liked back when. I can’t say I’ve ever thought what it meant unless it might be some sort of red herring. The comic had a nice illustration of a mare perching in a tree. My only hold-up was RING MAIN which is not in my vocab for some reason. Interrupted twice but in the 18 minute range.
  10. Just right for a pleasant mid-week solve. Wasted a little time trying to justify PREMISE from some of the letters of ‘it’s presumed’ until the real explanation occurred. Liked SKINFLINT, hate G&T.
  11. The iPad clock said 28:17 but this may well have included somewhere near 10 minutes trying to sort out a Bluetooth disconnect between the iPad and my Zagg keyboard. Steady stuff with no standout clues, although I am reminded that I get into hrmmph mode when I see journalists (usually) treating LEADING QUESTION as being the most important one.

    Edited at 2016-03-10 07:27 pm (UTC)

  12. About 45mins all told, but needed a couple of hours off in the middle before coming back and then seeing SWATCH and WAIVING almost immediately. Funny how that works…
  13. 40 minutes with the last 10 spent staring at 23ac and 19d, until the penny finally dropped and CURTEST led to PREMISE. FoI INFAMY. Spent sometime on MINDSET unable to quash the notion that the note was MI (and unable to parse MINDERS) until I got LEADING QUESTION which finally made me look at the clue from the other end. Liked HORSE BOX and HERITAGE. Another enjoyable solve, managing to parse everything as I went. John

    Edited at 2016-03-10 12:13 pm (UTC)

  14. Most of grid filled after thirty minutes but the minutes ticked by as I struggled to see 5,6,8,21 and 28. It took another eight minutes to sort out that lot. For me this was a perfect medium-difficulty puzzle with some very nice clues (especially 1a, 25a, 8d, 16d) and faultless wordplay.
  15. 24:57. The second day running with no real obscurities. Obscurities galore for verlaine tomorrow?
  16. I probably should have brought this one home inside of 10 minutes, but for some reason I couldn’t see MARES NEST until the bitter end, despite being sure it was an anagram from the moment I clapped eyes on the clue. Definitely a good argument for having a pen and paper handy: sometimes that’s a lot easier than juggling letters in your head, but I never learn my lesson and sit down prepared!

    (Have just checked the state of the leaderboard twelve hours later and I probably shouldn’t be used as a yardstick for measuring a speedy solve… not even inside 2 Magoo’s today! Everyone in my house has been sick all week, is my feeble excuse…)

    Edited at 2016-03-10 01:10 pm (UTC)

    1. I did need to write out the letters of STEERSMAN to unravel the anagram so you might have a point.
  17. 11:32. My first in was SWATCH which meant that the NE corner got filled very quickly but the rest needed a bit more thought, other than biffs for edifice, benefit, leading question and mindset.

    I agree that the use of “G and T” was very clever.

  18. 45 minutes but with no passes. Despite reading Physics at Oxford the same three years as Howard Marks, I’m slow on the drug references. Lynn Barber, there at the same time, has written that the grammar schoolboys then were virginal, apart from Howard. That’s me, I was still singing A Four Legged Friend. NE corner last, with swatch necessary to see Horse Box.
  19. 36 minutes for me. I DITHERed over DITHER, because (a) I wasn’t convinced it could serve as a noun (though one can be “all of a dither”, I suppose. Why is nobody ever “part of a dither”?); and (b) I mis-parsed, and read the clue as “D[aughter] I (one) of two heading off ([o]THER)”, meaning that the “one” was doing double duty both as an “I” and as “one of two”, which didn’t look right. Thanks to our blogger for clarifying.

    PREMISE was my NTLOI (shortly before DITHER), since my brain insisted that it was PREMISS. That was very remise of me, and I promiss to remember it for next time. Fortunately, I could see that something was amise with my spelling.

    A nice puzzle all round, I thought.

  20. 34m today of steady solving with no real hold ups and some enjoyable clues with 16a the pick of the bunch for me. Lots of biffing so thanks, blogger, for explaining 12a, where I never saw the partial anagram, among others.
  21. 12m here, then several more re-establishing my internet connection and retyping all the answers, only to miss the leaderboard altogether because of a typo.
    I had exactly the same experience as verlaine with MARES NEST, a term I was aware of without much idea of what it might mean.
    Nice puzzle.
  22. 22 mins with a fair amount of biffing. Got a toe-hold in the bottom half and steadily worked my way up to the NW where 2dn was my LOI. Like Olivia, I too remember the Rupert Bear story with the mare’s nest – how strange memory is!
  23. After struggling to finish three final pesky clues in today’s QC, I had no real hopes for today’s 15×15. But I solved it steadily and finished it, a rare achievement for me. I did not know Mares Nest but it had to be an anagram – which I could only solve with all the checking letters. So proof that the QC is an excellent training ground. Now to look up the paintings of Marc Chagall. David
  24. 10:18 for me, feeling perhaps slightly better than I did yesterday, but still waiting for the Amoxicillin to kick in properly.

    One of the first Ximenes clues I ever solved – in a puzzle of his I had a decidedly unsuccessful bash at some years before I started tackling him in earnest – ran something like “Bird found in a doubtful mare’s nest (6)”. I didn’t know what a “mare’s nest” was then, and I didn’t recognise the meaning used today. (By the time X came to write Ximenes on the Art of the Crossword, he’d cast his lot against clues like that!)

    An interesting and enjoyable solve.

  25. I’m still struggling a bit with Mare’s Nest – which I am familiar with as complicated and confusing, but not in a way that would cause any alarm. Didn’t think of Finespun, so spent quite a while trying to parse Homespun. Agree with the view that this is somehow harder than the sum of its parts; also agree COD to Skinflint. It’s just gone midnight GMT here in NY, so I get an hour to start the Friday.
    1. Paul, there’s a secondary meaning of the term which is more to do with the FALSE bit of FALSE ALARM. Merriam Webster online has it as “a false discovery, illusion, or deliberate hoax”.
      1. Ah. Thank, P. I looked it up on your suggestion – the OED has the ‘false discovery of something fantastic’ as the original usage “thought he’d found a mare’s nest”, and the complicated mess as a kind of backformation. Interesting, in light of the ongoing discussion about fair and unfair anagrams of unknown words that, although I was unfamiliar with the definition, this seemed more than fair to me

        Edited at 2016-03-11 12:28 pm (UTC)

    1. On the assumption that the answer is FULMAR and it’s a hidden I’d say the “fault” lay in the fact that A and NEST serve no purpose in the cryptic reading.
      1. Aha. Thank you. I have no problem with a bit of padding myself, but I see the argument.
      2. Thanks for supplying the explanation which I rather cavalierly omitted. It turns out, however, that I’ve almost certainly done X a disservice since “Chambers” (then and now) includes a hyphen in “mare’s-nest”. (I’ve written an extended reply to sotira’s original comment about this rather, to my mind, odd usage. I suppose the setter/editor was guided by “Chambers” – or perhaps “Collins” which also includes the hyphen – in the enumeration for today’s clue.) That would still leave the “a”, but I suspect that even the later X wouldn’t cavil over an indefinite article.
    2. I see penfold_61 has already answered your question. To quote from “The Art …”:

      That brings me to my last point about “hidden” clues: it may be fair, but to my mind it is most inartistic, to have redundant words in the hiding-place, like this: “This girl appears in black at every party she goes to [4]” I needn’t tell you the answer, but I hate those last four words of eyewash! Compare this with one of Afrit’s best: “Girl detected in imitating Lady Sneerwell [6]”. You won’t take long to find her, because in this context you know she’s hidden; but she might not catch your eye at once otherwise.

      However, I think I was almost certainly doing X a disservice since “Chambers” (then and now) includes a hyphen in “mare’s-nest”. The same goes for “Collins” (at least in my 1986 edition), but I’m much more familiar with the version given in the Sykes edition of the COD and in ODO neither of which mentions the possibility of a hyphen (though if you search for “mare’s-nest” in the latter, it does take you to “mare’s nest”). The OED sticks firmly with the unhyphenated version apart from the plural “mare’s-nests”. It does include one citation for the singular “mare’s-nest”, but since that was from The New Yorker, perhaps it was felt to be a simple aberration :-).

      1. Thank you, Tony. I’m almost persuaded. One does get a sense of the man from that, especially that “four words of eyewash”!

        I was thinking, reading one of your comments the other day, that a monograph from you along the lines of “The TIme Crossword Then and Now” would make wonderful reading (if you could ever find the time).

        1. Kind of you say so, Sotira. I’ve written about this sort of thing a number of times in my blog (see side panel), but I suspect it would take a lot more research to produce a coherent picture even though I’ve probably as much knowledge of the subject as anyone.

          And sadly time isn’t really on my side: I’m horribly aware that I’m getting slower, so that the months seem to flash by, leaving me feeling that I’m always having to run to catch up despite having a lot fewer commitments than I once had. (Deep sigh!)

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