Times 26488 – an American, a Frenchman and an ogre walk into a bar…

Solving time : 17:33. I found this one difficult, and there was one complete guess from wordplay that I was relieved to find was correct – congratulations to those of you who know the town and wrote it straight in. There are very few straightforward clues here, but I think all the wordplay is solid (as I write this, I realize I may not have parsed all of 13 across).

A few Mephisto-like words have crept into today’s grid as well as some old and new phrases.

Away we go…

1 GUJARAT: GUT(corporation) around JAR(conflict),A(area). Fortunately this was close to my mind as when I watch the satellite cricket feed there are incesant ads for an arranged marriage service called Gujarat Harmony.
5 MAJESTY: MY(lord) surrounding A,JEST(kid)
9 SONIC BOOM: S(point) ON, ICBM(missile) containing O,O(rings)
10 CORFU: anagram(resort) of FOR,U(s),C(lubbers). At risk of opening up Pandora’s can of worms, I’ll call this an all-in-one
11 OMBRE: hidden reversed in supERB MOve
12 PLAYTHING: anagram of NIGHTLY,P,A
13 NOT ON YOUR LIFE: NOT ON(off), and YOUR LIFE(the reader’s biography) – I think “setting” in the clue means to place the two parts next to one another
17 HISTORY IS BUNK: Quote from Henry Ford. STORY(lie), by I’S, BUNK(bed) after HI
21 TRAFALGAR: RAG, LT containing A,FAR – all reversed
24 TROLL: ROLL(rumble) following T – definition is “potential instigator of post war”. We used to have one on here, posted as The General back in the day
25 HATES: AT in HES(a stag party would only have HE’S)
27 WORKSOP: WORKS(factory) then PO reversed(moving to west) – I had to guess this town from wordplay. Tripadvisor recommends going to Clumber park
28 TANTRUM: definition is “Paddy” – TAN(brown) then TRUMPS(specially picked suit) missing PS
1 GASCON: (singin)G, AS with CON
2 JUNK BONDS: BOND(secret agent) in JUNKS
3 RICHEST: IR reversed, then CHEST
4 TWO A PENNY: anagram of A,PONY,WENT. At one point the cost of hot cross buns
6 JACK TAR: JACK(raise),TAR(pitch)
7 SERAI: SE, R, A1 – I only knew this from the longer form of CARAVANSERAI which has appeared a few times in barred puzzles
8 YOUNG MEN: anagram of MONEY with GUN
14 OBSERVANT: OB(obiter), SERVANT – Apologies for the rush job last night where I had this as OBSERVER
15 INKHOLDER: definition is “writer’s well” – IN and OLDER, containing K(urdis)H
16 CHAT SHOW: C(about), HATS(top gear), HOW(the way)
18 ONASSIS: Aristotle – IS ON ASS(doing donkey derby) with the IS at the end
19 UP-TRAIN: anagram of PURITAN
20 PLENUM: this clue took me ages but at the end I liked it – Professor PLUM from Cluedo/Clue holding EN
22 ASTOR: there’s generations of them – ROT, SA(sex appeal,it) allreversed
23 GET UP: double definition to finish

48 comments on “Times 26488 – an American, a Frenchman and an ogre walk into a bar…”

  1. I found this no sweat but still took 34 minutes.

    4dn TWO A PENNY was FOI zand LOI PLENUM – with the candlestick in the conservator.

    IMO 24ac TROLL was afairly dodgy clue. In my haste I failed to parse 11ac OMBRE.

    COD 18db OINASSIS – not a classic Greek for once!

    WOD 21 ac HISTORY IS BUNK – it sure is

    horryd shanghai

  2. 12:33. I really liked this. No out-and-out unknowns, but quite a few words (OMBRE, SERAI, PLENUM) that don’t exactly spring to mind, so I found myself approaching a lot of the clues from the wordplay end rather than biffing.
  3. 36 minutes, but with ‘gaston’ for GASCON. The definitions for TROLL and OBSERVANT (‘being a spotter of talent’, i.e a very good noticer of things) were superb.

    G, at 14d, it should be OBSERVANT – kind of ironically…

    Edited at 2016-08-11 01:51 am (UTC)

    1. I did a careless GASTON too – good to have company! I guess I was hoping that ASTON was some kind of classic violin but it’s really no AMATI is it…
  4. I loved this. Went smoothly until I got to TANTRUM and PLENUM. Finally I saw the “specially picked suit” and then PLENUM was a biff, and then I realized the Cluedo reference.
  5. A first class puzzle. I marked up several clues as being outstanding but they have already been mentioned by others so I shall leave it at that.

    8dn struck me as a little odd as “young man” in this sort of context is a rather quaint expression from a bygone age when it was used as an alternative to “sweetheart” or “boyfriend”. “Lovers”, these days at least tends to imply a more intimate relationship, in which case the use of such terminology as “young man” appears to be somewhat coy.

    Edited at 2016-08-11 04:05 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks for that: I puzzled over why “YOUNG MEN” should necessarily be lovers, but that rather quaint use of the expression “her young man” nails it. It also confirms that impression I had that this, on the whole, was a rather old fashioned piece of work, from the days recalled with nostalgia here recently when you needed something to keep your ink and dip pigtails in.
  6. Bunged in a few, including 13 and 28, without being sure of the parsing and was only able to get SERAI and my LOI PLENUM (there’s been at least one Cluedo themed puzzle in the last year or so) from the wordplay. My favourite was 17; I was trying to think of what Laurence Olivier was saying in full Shakespearean flight until the penny dropped.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  7. Got the top half, despite not knowing SERAI or why YOUNG MEN means “lovers” (still not entirely convinced, despite the pointers here!) Sadly I had GUJURAT, just assuming there’d been some battle in the Inner Hebrides I wasn’t aware of.

    As for the bottom half — my goodness. Apart from HISTORY IS BUNK and HATES I got absolutely nothing. So many unknowns that I started listing them and realised my comment would end up longer than the blog, so I’ll just draw a veil and add a whole long list of things and people to my rapidly-growing “learn for crosswords” pile. Along with moving “SA” for “it” to uppercase and underlined, as I failed to get it yet again… Might still not have been confident enough to bung in the unknown ASTOR.

    I found this quite unsatisfying, as I often do when there are too many things I don’t know in the clues and the answers to really get a grip on the thing. Ah well.

    Edited at 2016-08-11 07:02 am (UTC)

  8. Incidentally, now I’ve been researching, it appears that GUJURAT is an alternate spelling for GUJARAT, and that conflicts happened in an area called the Fortified Section of the Jura, and I therefore claim the moral high ground in my mistake!
  9. Grew up in Notts and used to go to Clumber Park as a kid. I’m surprised to hear that Worksop is West Midlands as I would have sworn it was East Midlands!
    Nevertheless I thought some of the clues were a bit dodgy, especially Hates and Get Up, but much to be enjoyed elsewhere.
    1. That’s a bit of misdirection. The “moving to West” clues that “PO” should be backwards, so “Midlands town” stands alone.

      Edited at 2016-08-11 07:29 am (UTC)

      1. Silly me! I saw that when writing in the clue then forgot I had used the ‘west’ bit. Onset of senility.
  10. Found this straightforward, but very witty and enjoyable .. though still not sure if “young men” quite = “lovers.” I agree with Jack that the two terms occupy opposite ends of the coyness spectrum.
    No problem with serai, caravanserai being high on my list of Favourite Words.
    No way is Worksop in the Midlands .. it is definitely oop North.

    Edited at 2016-08-11 07:32 am (UTC)

  11. 25.50 for this heavy dose of nostalgia, where ink holders still existed, sonic booms were still allowed and you might spend a pleasant afternoon playing ombre in an obliging tearoom. Where Jolly Jack Tars were still known from the (bunk) history we learned which included the national pride of Trafalgar. Where lovers were just ardent young men (none of that, that was right out) who got their inflamed ideas (if they could sneak one from the top shelf) from Play…thing. When ghastly fruit chews were still two a penny (just after the farthing dropped out of circulation, then), and we wondered why Jackie married that vile Greek guy. When it meant something to be a socialite. When it was much more likely that the Frenchman would be a Musketeer than a lump of Disney beefcake. You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve come over all unnecessary…
    1. “What was it that first attracted you to the billionaire Mr Onassis, Jackie?” 🙂

      I do see what you mean about the nostalgia, Z

  12. 30 minutes. Excellent crossword. Tried RENEGE for 1d (Frenchman + singing at last) and GIBRALTAR for 21a on my first pass. COD to CHAT SHOW.
  13. A good challenge today. I suspect those who went for GASTON may have seen the film a few times. Meanwhile, why is it that among Henry Ford’s ravings and oddities this nonsensical statement at 17ac survives? 25ac parsing very dubious, still thinking… Getting more difficult through the week, 43′, with COD PLENUM. Thanks setter and blogger.
    1. Yes, I’ll blame my daughter – she went through a phase of watching it and it must have seeped into the unconscious.
  14. The top half just flew in really easily, then…nothing. However an answer here and an answer there eventually saw me home with a satisfied sigh, despite biffing OEDIPUS for the famous Greek.
    Loved the clue for PLENUM.
    Was I the only one to have GARCON for 1d first off? I know it’s a French boy, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
    Unfortunately I cannot agree with Messrs Ford and Shanghai about history. I think the dictum “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” is far more sensible.
  15. Top half flew in, but the bottom half slowed me down. 35 minutes altogether. FOI MAMBA, LOI TROLL, where I didn’t fully see the parsing, so thanks George. Didn’t quite know the Caravan, but thought SERAI more likely than SERMI, and now that I’ve been reminded, did vaguely know caravanserai. Wasn’t caught by GASCON as I double checked the wordplay. Smiled at JUNK BONDS. Liked this puzzle a lot. Thanks setter and George.
  16. 30 minutes, good puzzle, didn’t parse PLENUM and not convinced about HATES, otherwise all very fair and hard enough to feel you’ve done something. Living in what was GASCONY made 1d a write in.
    1. That perhaps answers one question – is a Gascon a Frenchman like a Yorkshireman’s an Englishman i.e. inhabitant of a region? I was trying to think of a name (GASTON) or a translation (GARCON) but neither fit – was my LOI on a wing and a prayer, from wordplay.
      Also with Gothick Matt on only knowing GUJURAT, and knew of the JURA mountains in Czechia (wrong – they’re French-Swiss border) where there must have been a WWII battle, before finally realising JAR was conflict.
      A slow and unconvincing 28 min.
  17. Took me the hour again today, getting stymied in the southwest, going through ancient Greeks without moving to a more recent Aristotle for many minutes. Took me nearly as long then for WORKSOP, as I was looking in the West Midlands, failing yet again to spot the move to the west. I’d always say ten a penny. Two a penny isn’t that cheap for aniseed balls. I’d biffed GASTON but eventually thought of CON as I stared shaking my head. Biffed SERAI and also YOUNG MEN, not thinking of the old term ‘her young man’. A good puzzle. FOI SONIC BOOM.
  18. Hardest of the week so far and a real pleasure to solve with its nostalgic overtones, apart perhaps from JUNK BONDS that were a product of the 1980s

    After Acton yesterday today WORKSOP on the edge of Sherwood Forest. A very interesting place if you’re into urban renewal. A big coal mining centre it went into sharp decline once the pits closed but has since had a new lease of life with the introduction of local manufacturing and exploitation of its location to make a distribution hub

  19. I liked this a lot although I struggled over the last third of the clues that I had left after 15 minutes and incorrectly plumped for the M1 and not the A1 in 7 down. I have always thought of Worksop as a Northern Town but I see it is in Nottinghamshire so, as usual, I have become more informed for my efforts. Guessed plenum from plenary as I had never heard of the word and did not see the word play. Loved tantrum once I saw the full word play but bunged it in from definition plus tan. All in all a very satisfying hour. Thanks setter and blogger.
  20. Very happy with my time for this brilliant puzzle. So many great clues, beautifully disguised definitions and seamless surfaces.

    COD to TROLL, but there were many contenders.

    Thanks setter and George.

      1. Why haven’t we thought of that before – used to drive me nuts when I was blogging the daily puzzle. Good thinking!
  21. 27 mins with a fair amount of biffing ( though I did see the Cluedo reference ). Was worried as I only solved 13ac on my first pass through the across clues but fortunately did better on the downs. No problem with GASCON which was my second one in. Nothing I didn’t know but the clues seemed particularly deceptive today.

    Edited at 2016-08-11 03:41 pm (UTC)

  22. 13:30 with plenty of cleverness including creative definitions. I had a bunch of question marks but the blog and comments have cleared everything up.
  23. 29 mins from start to finish with a huge knock in the middle of it. If I’d been alert the whole time I might have been able to get near halving it because once I woke up the almost empty NE and SW were completed fairly quickly. PLAYTHING was my LOI. I didn’t have a problem with the “lovers” definition of YOUNG MEN, and I agree that some of the cluing was excellent.
  24. Like Jason over in the Forum, I thought “stag party” = HES was dodgy. However I enjoyed the rest of this puzzle. I particularly liked INKHOLDER and TROLL (for-de-rol). Just as well for the setter that this puzzle didn’t appear in a Turkish newspaper otherwise 15d might have got him or her in trouble with the authorities! Indeed, depending on the vigilance of any Turkish censors, the print edition of The Times might be removed from the shelves!
    1. I would have thought ‘Kurdish extremists ‘ would have gone down very well with Turkish authorities as it stereotypes the Kurds nicely
  25. 16:16 for me, never really finding the setter’s wavelength, and less keen than others on this puzzle – but perhaps that’s down to a rather exhausting day.
  26. This puzzle divided opinion and I’m on the Meh side. This is the one I’ve liked least since I restarted a few weeks ago. A got quite a few answers from the definitions since the wordplay made little sense. (lord=my? stag party=hes? 10ac??) but some of the words were too obscure also.
    1. No problem with the obscurity factor but I agree with you about stag party = hes. I also tend to agree on lord = my. It’s usually “Good Lord” or “My word” or similar.

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