Times 26409 – easier than I made it

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
As I prepared myself for an early start on this in peace and quiet, no less than four elderly French chaps arrived bearing my new front door – a massive wooden thing; the existing, now disintegrating version of which was made in 1960 by the same local carpenter (now supposedly retired!). I sat down to solve, accompanied by shouting, banging, drilling and sawing, while they dismantled the original door for its metre-long hinges ready to fit the new one. No wonder, then, that I went astray a few times in this, taking around 45 minutes to get a solution I hope is correct, although there are a few I don’t get 100%. It’s still mayhem as I write this blog, so please excuse any typos.
Flavour wise, we seem to be in the same spectrum as Monday and yesterday, with some ‘different’ style clues and one cross referral (14d to 16) which was fair enough. With silence and a clear head it should have taken me 15 minutes, which is probably 3 Verlaines.

1 TIME-SERVER – TIMES = paper, insert (CUTTE)R into EVER; D one trimming.
6 JUJU – D charm, sounds like Jew Jew.
9 BUZZERS – Cryptic DD. I first thought BUTTONS = flies as in trousers! And fingers on the buttons not the buzzers; but 3d sorted it eventually.
10 PRESS-UP – PRE (before), S(econd) SUP (drink); D how to get oneself off the floor?
12 PROPOUNDED – PROP = forward, (W)OUNDED = hurt, not at the front; D advanced.
13 AWE – A, W, E = partnership, as in bridge; D fear, as in shock and awe, I suppose. Not very impressed with this, if it’s correct.
15 APATHY – A, PATH = way, Y = end of moneY; D lack of interest.
16 STARKERS – People gawping are STARERS, insert a K for king, D naked, as the emperor was.
18 BODY BLOW – (DO WOBBLY)*: D &lit.
20 PROTON – All reversed, NOT O(pposing) RP (received pronunication, Queen’s English); D a little bit charged. Edit: Better parsing from ‘Jim near Cambridge’ below; NO TO RP.
23 ROD – ROAD = way, loses A, D stick.
24 ALPENSTOCK – (STOLEN PACK)*; D for traveller, staff.
26 ABRIDGE – A BRIDE is a woman who might be blushing, insert G for good, D reduce work, as in shorten a book.
27 VERVAIN – VERY = extremely, VAIN = useless, delete the Y = unknown; D medicinal plant.
28 EATS – Hidden in M(EAT, S)AY; D has a portion of.
29 BERLIN WALL – A Berlin is a sort of four wheeled carriage, W(ith), ALL; D city boundary. Seems an odd definition as the Wall divided the city, rather than formed its boundary.

1 TUBE – E, BUT reversed; D train.
2 MAZURKA – AZ = A to Z, street guide, inserted in MURK, A; D dance.
3 SWEEP THE BOARD – Cryptic DD; I had CLEAR… for a while as was convinced 1a was something CARVER but I can’t explain why now.
4 RESCUE – RES(T), CUE; D save.
5 EXPEDITE – E E = mid wEEk; insert XP (old operating system for Windows) EDIT (change); D quickly deal with.
7 UPSTATE – D away from Capitol, and an UP STATE would be a cheerful mood.
11 ELDER BRETHREN – Well, elders are trees, and the Elder Brethren are the top chaps at Trinity House, the ancient body responsible for maintaining all of the lighthouses and light buoys in England and Wales. I knew this but sadly put in BROTHERS at first instead of BRETHREN, which complicated matters. ‘Protect our coastline’ is perhaps short for ‘protects shipping from hitting our coastline’, if I were being pedantic.
14 BARBARY APE – BAR = inn; YAP = chatter foolishly, insert into BARE = synonym for starkers as in 16a; D Gibraltar native.
17 COMPLETE – COMPETE = take part, insert L; D total.
19 DIDEROT – DID = cheated, EROT(ICA) = majority of titillating material; D encyclopaedist; Denis Diderot, who published his encyclopaedia in 1751 with M. d’Alembert.
21 TOCCATA – (CAT CAT O)*, the O for circle, D touching display, as in Bach’s T and Fugue.
22 SNIVEL – LEVIN is the hero in Anna Karenina, so reverse LEVIN’S to get D speak tearfully.
25 ANIL – A = actress at first, NIL = nothing, D indigo. Another name for the plant or the dye.

44 comments on “Times 26409 – easier than I made it”

  1. Held up for a very long time by guessing ‘Eldeer Brothers’–what they would have to do with coastlines was beyond me–and that of course made VERVAIN impossible. Especially as it took me forever to figure out how to get Levin into 22d. Never heard of the brethren, or of a berlin. Nor until this very moment, could I parse 5d; for which relief much thanks. DIDEROT struck me as a giveaway from the definition, but I will say I didn’t biff it. I did biff 14d, having never noticed the 16 until after submitting. Enjoyable, anyway.
  2. I needed help to get the unknown ALPENSTOCK, TOCCATA, ELDER BRETHREN and VERVAIN. And SNIVEL, which was obviously not unknown, but I had thrown in the towel by then.

    COD to PROTON, which took me ages to parse.

    Seem to be going through a flat patch at the moment. Could be the transit of Mercury, or maybe biorhythms. Actually whatever happened to biorhythms?

    Whatevs, will try again tomorrow. Thanks setter and Pip.

  3. Not particularly enjoyable for me however. I got there in the end with much biffing and aids, and too many unknowns. The whole thing just failed to grab me I’m afraid.
    Perhaps it’s something to do with my mood – I’m off camping and it’s miserable weather.
  4. DNF, as I got much stuck in the SE… had ‘apprentice’ in for the traveller (thought it may have been an old def, but clearly couldn’t parse it), and was messing about with ‘certain’ at 27ac, or ‘bewail’ at 22dn. Clearly not both of them, that wouldn’t work. In actual fact neither of them! Also mis-parsed WE in AWE as just being ‘us’. Don’t think I’ve met the TIME-SERVER, MUZARKA or the ELDER BRETHREN, but got them from wp. Not a good week so far…
  5. for 21dn. Threw me off balance. Had no idea that (as ODO has it) “a musical composition for a keyboard instrument designed to exhibit the performer’s touch and technique”.
    Trinity House also went straight through to the (lighthouse?) keeper.
    But a good laff from the blushing bride at 26ac. Always reminds me of Formby’s “When I’m Cleaning Windows” which I once sang in Swedish with electric uke accompaniment. (Don’t ask for an encore.)
  6. Yes I had “buttons” too for a while – must have been channeling Anax. Quibble with 7d – in NYS Albany is UPSTATE so if you want to get away from it (and everyone does) you come downstate to NYC for example. This puzzle wouldn’t have been out of place as a weekly TLS – TIME-SERVER reminded me of the Vicar of Bray. 16.21
    1. Indeed Olivia I was a bit confused about the geography here, but not being very wise about your East coast I thought the Capitol was in Wash DC and Upstate might mean in the leafy countryside of West Virginia or thereabouts… is there another Capitol in Albany, or indeed in every state capital?
      1. Right Pip, the capitals of each state have a capitol building as the seat of state government (if you can call it that – there’s a steady stream of our NY legislators heading for or doing serious time, as I mentioned in a comment on yesterday’s puzzle).
      2. I thought “away from Capitol” for upstate was a bit dubious. In many states the capitol is somewhere odd. For example, in NY the Capitol is upstate. In California it is in Sacramento but going from Sacramento to San Francisco or LA is hardly going upstate.
  7. 17 min, with some unparsed. I’d got 12ac from PRO=forward, POUNDED=hurt, but not seeing why ‘not at first’ was there. (I always forget that Times setters are rugger b’s)
    Have never read the Tolstoy, so 22d was biffed.
    11dn reminds me of the story that Churchill, trying to explain his position to deGaulle claimed to be “an elder brother of the Trinity” to which the only possible reply was “Mon Dieu!”
  8. I managed about three-quarters of this quite nicely in around 25 minutes but then got completely bogged down in the SE corner where apart from ANIL I was unable to progress. As the 45 minute marker approached I cheated to find out what could possibly go with ELDER to make sense of 11dn. I also needed aids for VERVAIN which I couldn’t recall or didn’t know in the first place. Another unknown was the required meaning of TIME-SERVER.

    I think 11dn is a poor clue as it relies on two pieces of general knowledge. Trinity House and their lighthouses have come up before, and that’s obscure enough, but the fact that it’s run by ELDER BRETHREN is an obscurity too far in my opinion. Another was the name of the character in Tolstoy, and I was positively hindered in parsing the answer once I’d discovered that in Russian the author’s first name was Lev.

    Like our blogger I thought that BERLIN WALL was oddly defined, and TOCCATA even more so.

    Edited at 2016-05-11 10:00 am (UTC)

  9. A big 40 minute dnf, much of SE undone without word book. Dnk VERVAIN, ELDER BRETHREN a total mystery, and Anna Karenina never read. I hope next Wednesday may be more accessible. Learned lots today.
  10. I thought for a while that this was going to be a repeat of yesterday, with answers flying into the puzzle grid thick and fast for the first few minutes, but eventually I ground to a halt and had to struggle to a final time just outside of the 10 minute mark. It didn’t help that I had BUTTONS at 9ac and a shrugged ELDER BROTHERS at 11ac for a good long time – just like many others it would seem.

    Not a bad puzzle but on the obscure side: reading through your parsings above there were quite a few I bunged in only half reasoned-through.

  11. One of those puzzles I was very happy to complete without aids. Started reasonably well but entering “buttons” slowed me down a bit in the NW and then I hit the SE! Didn’t know the EB (my LOI) or Mr Levin but once I’d got “alpenstock” the rest slowly fell into place. No precise time but around 35 mins.

    Edited at 2016-05-11 12:13 pm (UTC)

  12. Like some others, mostly completed after 25 minutes or so, then stuck on 11, 20, 21, 22 and 27. I wondered if 21 were some neologism that I hadn’t come across – TACTACA, but guessed it must be TOCCATA, only later explained when I looked it up in the dictionary and saw the precise meaning. I had to resort to aids for 11 and 27, after which the others fell quickly. I didn’t know the Tolstoy character, so that was no help for 22.
  13. I managed to make a complete mess of this, with LULU instead of JUJU, an awful EROTON instead of PROTON (despite thinking of ions and electrons I never once considered proton), TEAL for ANIL and VERLAME for VERVAIN. I’d thought of ANIL but couldn’t see anything for VER_A_N so teal went in unparsed. That gave me verlame, which I reckon is like Verlaine on an off day.

  14. A small point, but I read the slogan as NO TO RP, rather than taking the O from Opposing.

    Jim, near Cambridge

    1. I think that is correct – the cryptic doesn’t work the other way.

      David, London

  15. Eventually all in, though with ‘taccata’ instead of TOCCATA. So many unknown terms/words in the answers (and even the clues), which were admittedly gettable from the wordplay, that this was a bit unsatisfying, although I’m sure that’s more a reflection of my own ignorance than the quality of the puzzle. Favourites were PRESS-UP and PROTON.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  16. My clarion call! Didn’t start until after lunch after an unhappy morning playing computers and went well until I reached the south-east. Crossword solving mirrors life. Somewhere from the back of my mind I eventually dredged up ELDER BRETHREN and saw VERVAIN but it’s taken over the hour. COD PROTON. Good puzzle.
  17. Even though I corrected 6 across from a hasty but rather pleasing MOJO (Moses & Joseph) I still got it wrong, plumping for LULU on the basis of something like Lew Grade and his twin brother, Lew.

    I also thought Elder Brethren must be another term for the navy a la Senior Service and, like others, didn’t even spot the “16” lurking at the end of the monkey clue*.

    That SE corner was a beast.

    * Yes, I know monkeys and apes aren’t the same thing.

    1. …is a much better answer than the real one. Perhaps the setter can use it when s/he has a couple of Os to spare
    2. …is a much better answer than the real one. Perhaps the setter can use it when s/he has a couple of Os to spare
    3. Your instinct was right – “barbary apes” are actually monkeys (macaques).
  18. Fewer problems than others but same reservations as many. ELDER BRETHREN known from previous crosswords but not convinced by “help to protect our coastline” or indeed by definition of BERLIN WALL. Just biffed SNIVEL from checkers – no idea about Levin. PROTON a write-in. Sadly no redeeming features so not a puzzle to remember.
  19. It took me 30 minutes to do all but the SE, then like others I ground to a complete halt. After 95 minutes I had completed the grid without aids but had biffed VERBAIN instead of VERVAIN(didn’t trawl the alphabet far enough for “useless”, due to brain fatigue!). I also didn’t notice the 16 at the end of the monkey clue. Took me ages to get CATION out of my head for 20ac, but saw it eventually, thus helping me with the unknown ELDER BRETHREN. No problem with the dye derived from Aniline. I was relieved to finish with only one wrong. A bit of a chore though. FOIs TUBE and MAZURKA. LOI the incorrect VERBAIN. Didn’t quite understand TOCCATA. Thanks to Pip for the parsing I didn’t get.
  20. The BRETHREN gave the most problems. I just didn’t know the definition. I had BROTHER at first but once I got VERVAIN there seemed only one possible answer. No problem with TOCCATA which was one of my first in. 35minutes. Ann
  21. Some of us need to read more of the classics. Vervain was the tyrant Woundwort’s head of police, spooked into flight by the much smaller Fiver’s facility for convincingly predicting doom.
    And the Berlin Wall was most definitely a city boundary. I once stood on the East side looking at the teasing neons of the West through the Brandenburg Gate, knowing that there was no way of getting from here to there without an accompanying stream of bullets from the very visible watchtower guns already covering my every move. This is a crossword. In English. A city boundary does not have to be on the edge, now does it? It’s a boundary (vide supra). It’s in a city. Duh.
    1. I think I saw a dramatised version of your E Berlin jaunt in an Oscar-nominated film the other day. Tom Hanks was trying to help you get back to those neon lights, but you had met this eastern bloc bird and were rather reluctant to leave. It cost Tom Hanks his coat in the end…
  22. I feel more roundly educated now that I have read the synopsis of W.D. 🙂
  23. I’ve read it, but managed to forget it, along with many other things which might have proved useful to have remembered.
  24. Thank goodness I was not alone in the SE corner, ALPENSTOCK, SNIVEL, TOCCATA AND VERVAIN all defeated me, biffed PROTON, but needed the blog to show what a clever chappie I was. DNK DIDEROT needed a Wiki and ELDER BRETHREN was lurking there somewhere but needed a visit to Chambers to show itself. A wonderful mix of clues ALPENSTOCK IMHO being the pick even though I failed on it. Thanks blogger and setter a splendid test.
  25. OK – after 10 minutes of staring at 11 down and getting utterly nowhere I looked it up. Put it in and then tried to make sense of the clue. Even after a visit here I’m unconvinced. This was a tricky one.
  26. Ouch. Had to look up ELDER BRETHREN and VERVAIN, so DNF after 25 minutes or so. No idea of Levin either, just biffed from the checking letters. Tough puzzle today, but that comment is really limited to the SE corner, as most have already said. Better luck tomorrow, I suppose. Regards.
  27. It seems quite accepted Time Server is equivalent to ‘ One trimming’ . In what context/connotation is that then?
    1. “Trimmer = time-server” is in Chambers, with time-server defined as a person who adapts his or her conduct or views to suit prevailing circumstances, fashion.

      I’d not met trimmer with this meaning before today

  28. 27 mins with probably half that time spent on the SE quadrant, which I also thought was a beast. ALPENSTOCK (it took me forever to see that it was an anagram clue) was my LOI after the SNIVEL/VERVAIN crossers. ELDER BRETHREN was vaguely familiar so in it went after I had enough checkers, but I had absolutely no idea how it related to the clue. I’m another who thinks this puzzle wasn’t as enjoyable as some of the recent trickier ones, but that’s just my taste and isn’t intended to be a criticism of the setter or the editor.
  29. 10:07 for me (exactly the same time as verlaine’s :‑). I confidently bunged in BUTTONS at 9ac, which held me up badly as I felt I had to know the dance in 2dn but simply couldn’t make anything out of ‑‑TAZ‑A or ‑‑T‑AZA; and I wasted almost as much time on 3dn.

    No problem with ELDER BRETHREN though, or with BERLIN WALL (where I agree with Z about “city boundary” being entirely valid). I think I’d probably heard of VERVAIN before I read Watership Down but perhaps it came to mind slightly quicker because of it.

    And I had an annoying senior moment with 22dn, the only Russian name coming to mind being “Repin” (the artist) who interestingly would yield SNIPER.

    A most interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

  30. I had an extremely busy day today, finishing with dinner, so by the time I got to this it was very late and I’d had a few glasses of wine, so I thought I’d see how things went solving under Verlaine-like conditions. Not well, is the answer, but I reckon that if I had been completely sober I would still have failed eventually, I’d just have been more reluctant to give up. I stopped the clock with four unsolved in the SE, including ELDER BRETHREN. Having come here for enlightenment I’m just glad I didn’t waste more than 15 minutes on this one.
  31. This just isn’t right. To equate Israeli and Jew is like equating Briton and Anglican. Many Israelis aren’t Jews and many Jews aren’t Israelis.

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