Times 26500 – feeling like a 5 down

Solving time : 21:05 – for a moment I didn’t think I was going to finish this one, then got a flash of inspiration that solved 10 across which helped the last few fall all of a sudden. I suspect the individual level of difficulty will depend on knowing the terms at 4 and 5 down, the substance at 1 across, and seeing through some of the crafty (and possibly UK-centric) definitions.

Even if you do figure out the definitions, there’s some crafty wordplay involved here.

Away we go…

1 GUM ARABIC: definition is “it sticks” – ARABIC(tongue) next to GUM(part of the mouth)
6 POSSE: I’m more used to the police version of this term, but Chambers has “a gang or group of young friends” – the rather vile sounding drink POSSET shortened
10 CUP TIES: CUTIES with P inside – not 100% sure of the definition here, is a cup tie always a knockout game?
11 DRIVE: DR,I’VE – think of taking a car for a spin
13 BURST: would have the same definition if it was BUST
14 TAILGATER: one who drives too close behind – TAIL(back),GATE(one you might crash uninvited),R
18 ORRIS: a root – MORRIS dance missing the first letter
19 FANCY FREE: FAN(supporter) then FREE(released) after CITY missing IT,
22 ELAND: remove NG from ENGLAND
24 ABSTAIN: to not be tempted – in A BIN, S(alvation),TA(army)
25 EATS OUT: one of two clues like this in the puzzle – since EATS is an anagram of SEAT
26 ECLAT: C in TALE reversed
27 ECTOPLASM: anagram of PLACES,TO, then M(mass in scientific equations)
1 GATED: I think the definition is just “kept in” – you may DE-TAG an offender, reverse it
2 MARDI GRAS: M(month), ARRAS(hanging) surrounding DIG
3 REFLECTOR: REFECTOR(y) containing L
4 BEYOND THE FRINGE: sketch comedy revue first performed in Edinburgh almost exactly 56 years ago – BEYOND(the other side), THE, FRINGE(border)
5 CUCKOO IN THE NEST: my last one in – IN THE NEST is an anagram of THE TENNIS. Odd clue, with THE being an anagram of THE, having also appeared as THE in the previous clue
7 STING: T(hieves) in SING
8 EASY TERMS: two definitions, one cryptic
13 BRIEFCASE: BRIE, then an anagram of FACES
15 GOOSE-STEP: “progress that is inflexible” is the definition – a GOOSE is a sort of iron with a neck-like handle, then PETS reversed
16 TARRAGONA: Spanish port – TAR, then (ORGAN)*, A
21 YEAST: YET containing AS

57 comments on “Times 26500 – feeling like a 5 down”

  1. DNK TARRAGONA, GUM ARABIC or that GOOSE is (was) an iron, but that just added to the challenge.

    STING was easy, but why a police operation? Were Newman and Redford working undercover?

    Very enjoyable crossword, particularly the reverse anagrams for EATS OUT and CUCKOO IN THE NEST. Thanks setter and George.

    And yes George, in the UK at least, ‘cup’ is usually used to refer to a knockout competition (eg FA Cup) as opposed to a league.

    1. I think maybe you were just kidding, but here are some recent headlines…
      The NYPD is Running Stings Against Immigrant-Owned Shops …
      ProPublica-Apr 22, 2016

      Family of Mt. Vernon bystander killed in cop sting will sue NYC
      New York Daily News-Aug 18, 2016
      The family of a Mt. Vernon man accidentally killed by an NYPD undercover cop plans to file a $20 million lawsuit against the city.

      El Paso parole officers arrested in FBI sting
      El Paso Times-Aug 12, 2016

      FBI agents arrest Las Vegas man in undercover assault rifle sting
      Las Vegas Review-Journal-Aug 15, 2016

      1. Oh I know that police forces conduct stings. But so do other organisations, such as criminal gangs, tabloid media outlets and some government departments.
        1. Oh, of course. Sorry, how silly of me. So do you think it should have been flagged as a DBE?
          1. I guess some would say so Guy, but it doesn’t bother me, especially in such an easy clue. I usually only complain about the ones I get wrong!
  2. Very hard for me – I really was close to 2 hours 48 minutes! Still, got there in the end with 4d, the record of which I’ve listened to since I was a child, inexcusably being my last in. Had only vaguely heard of TARRAGONA and GUM ARABIC and didn’t know about a GOOSE iron, but the rest were possible. The reverse anagrams, TAILGATER and REFLECTOR – now there’s a coincidence – were my favourites.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  3. FOI 1ac GUM SHIELD ! Which held me up considerably. GUM ARABIC of course.

    It was finally over in 58 painful minutes with LOI 10 ac CUP TIES (excellent COD)

    I’m still not sure how the CUCKOO fits in from 5dn! Not that cuckoos fit in easily anywhere!)(THE TENNIS is fine.)(


    horryd Shanghai

    1. Horryd,

      Cuckoo is the anagrind (lovely word that) that allows “THE TENNIS” to be derived from “IN THE NEST”.

  4. Glad to see I wasn’t alone in finding some of this extremely hard, but I’m afraid once the hour came round I decided enough was enough and resorted to aids to come up with (gum) ARABIC, TAILGATER, BURST and INSURGENT – I was missing 13dn BRIEFCASE at that stage, otherwise I’d have stood a better chance with those two, but having “cheated” I was able to resolve the missing Down clue myself.

    I had no problem solving 15dn from the definition and spotting STEP from “pets” reversed, but I wasn’t sure about “goose” from “iron” although I thought I vaguely remembered coming across it previously.

    Edited at 2016-08-25 03:58 am (UTC)

  5. Difficult. And DNF since I’d went for TARRANOGA never having heard of the correct answer (or the incorrect one for that matter). Several clues took forever to solve and then afterwards seemed easy (like ELAND, BURST)
  6. Thank-you for the kind attention – trust ‘CUCKOO’ to be an anagram indicator, signpost, @, what you will!

    Might I suggest that you mug-up on your Arabic!?

    horryd Shanghai

    1. “Anagram indicator” is such a clunky phrase, Horryd .. use anagrind and anagrist, so precise by comparison
      1. I do think Horryd has a point. I put anagrind and anagrist into an anagram solver and the first hit I got was “raging satan nadir”.
  7. Bizarrely, it was immediately getting the relative obscurities of GUM ARABIC and BEYOND THE FRINGE* that clued me to this being one of those puzzles that was not going to go well. Sadly my hunch turned out correctly — I don’t think I’d ever be on the wavelength here, and not knowing so much of the vocabulary was a handicap too far.

    Although I dredged posset, ELAND and ORRIS from my memory somehow, the unknown goose, CUP TIES, ECLAT, TARRAGONA, arras and so forth left me too high and dry to get on, especially with a tentative DRONE at 11a having me searching for the same mythical archaeological site as Vinyl… (MURDO something?)

    Very much a DNF for me, and probably the first time I’ve not even half finished in some weeks.

    *Obscure by my generation’s terms; it finished seven years before I was born, and I only have vague recollections of odd clips seen here and there.

    1. I think we’re of a similar age, Matt, and I wouldn’t call BEYOND THE FRINGE obscure. It must have featured in every programme about British comedy ever made, and when it appears the word ‘seminal’ usually isn’t far behind.
      1. I think if I were to ask a random sample of my friends what Beyond the Fringe was, at least half of them would have no idea, but perhaps I’m doing them a disservice… (They’d all know Monty Python, though!)
        1. You may have a better class of friends than me, but I’m pretty sure that anything half of mine know would count as common knowledge around here!
      1. Well, there is that. A few years ago I may not have made a single inroad into this puzzle. Rather wish it had come up on a weekend, where I allow myself more than an hour…
  8. Had less trouble with this than others, starting off with 4D from cryptic and 5D from definition plus 6,2,3,4 and not even seeing the anagram. That made 1A easy and knew of the substance – in fact no unknowns today having been to TARRAGONA. GOOSE as an iron has been knocking around crossword land for years

    Remember BEYOND THE FRINGE very well along with That Was The Week That Was and ire of parents who regarded whole thing as undermining the Empire!

    1. I vaguely remember something called BEHIND THE FRIDGE. But can’t remember who did it. Or was it a follow up to the original revue?
      1. It was only Pete and Dud if I remember rightly. I went to see it back in the … first half of the 1970s at a guess … but I don’t remember much about it. I almost certainly still have the programme, but it’s lost among hundreds of others.
  9. 35 minutes and thoroughly enjoyed. It had a slightly different feel which was refreshing.
  10. A slow start today, FOI the ubiquitous ELAND. Dnk GOOSE, and failed to parse TAILGATER – I do not think ‘one that’s maybe crashed’ works as GATE, since the verb is GATECRASH and it’s transitive. DRIVE works nicely as ‘spin’, although not spotted by me, I went for ‘spin’ as in ‘endlessly try to keep some idea going’ = DRIVE. Is TARRAGONA the origin of the name of the herb? COD undoubtedly 5d, nicely deceptive. CUCKOO IN THE NEST is something the British aristocracy (and perhaps our esteemed Royal Family) are rather scared of, since a proven occurrence (much easier with modern DNA testing) may possibly have implications for inheritance over several generations. 25’, so pleased. Thanks gl and setter.
  11. Miles off the wavelength and to be honest I found it annoying, especially “one that’s maybe crashed” for gate, which just seems silly.

    Didn’t know the goose bit, either, which is fair enough but “progress that is inflexible” for GOOSE-STEP earned another scowl from me.

    I’m probably in a bad mood because when I finally went to submit this the Club site went pfoof. Considering how long it took me to solve this, that’s no bad thing.

    Yah, well. Onwards and downwards.

  12. This seemed quite tough to me so I was surprised to finish in 25:03. Unusual to see two reverse anagrams, but it’s a clue style I enjoy. Like keriothe I held back on GOOSE STEP until the end, having no idea what GOOSE had to do with iron. It put me in mind of Monty Python, which put me in mind of my recent holiday in the Isles of Scilly where I saw ‘Scilly Walks’ advertised.

    Edited at 2016-08-25 08:54 am (UTC)

  13. 25m. Phew, that was hard! I had about half of it done fairly quickly, but then the rest had to be ground out painfully. In a good way, I hasten to add: a challenge like this is very welcome, just as long as they don’t do it every day. LOI GOOSE STEP: I thought of it early on but couldn’t bring myself to put in the GOOSE bit until checkers made it inevitable.
    A posset is more commonly a dessert than a drink these days. Interestingly neither Chambers nor Collins recognise this meaning at all, while ODO has it first and calls the drink ‘historical’. The lexicographer’s task is like nailing jelly to a wall.
  14. I also found this a tough challenge, finishing in 59 minutes. FOI, PAPAL, LOI, CUP TIES after finally twigging CUCKOO IN THE NEST. DNK POSSET as a drink, GOOSE as an iron and wouldn’t have known ORRIS as a root without the clue as a reminder. An interesting puzzle which I quite enjoyed. Liked CUP TIES. Thanks to the setter and to George for explaining a couple of parsings I didn’t fully get.
  15. This was hard on my brain – the penny took a long time to drop in various places, including 4 & 5 down. I got the clue and def back-to-front on 13d which didn’t help… Unusually and frustratingly I half-solved various clues, but I think that probably means it was a good puzzle.

    I think setters do need to reconsider before using a few things that are possibly clichés to old hands but will fox novices, eg corporation=tum, goose=iron and browser=eland.

    1. I have similar feelings about golf course designers Adrian. What’s with those sandy bits? And why are the holes so small?
    2. Half the fun is learning the cruciverbal language. Good luck, with your campaign to get setters to do it your way instead 😉
      1. I agree really. I was annoyed with myself for not seeing the significance of “browser”, and though it’s not possible to get “goose” from “iron” (if you don’t know it already), I could’ve checked it in Chambers after I’d biffed it.
  16. I thought this was a Times classic and hugely satisfying to finish. On first run through all I had was ECTOPLASM and my heart sank, but GUM ARABIC and BEYOND THE FRINGE were dredged up from somewhere and off we went, with every clue a wrestle. Well over an hour but with time to kill on the beach in Zanzibar, no issue there. We were watching ELAND on a walking safari last week, so that came readily to mind! The final moment was realising that “glower” should rhyme with lower and not with Gower. Great fun, thanks to the setter (and to the assembled bloggers for not dismissing one of my relatively rare finishes as an absurdly easy edition!) Cheers to all – off for a well-earned glass of Tusker, now
  17. Suddenly saw GUM ARABIC and with one bound I was free. LOIS TAILGATER AND GOOSESTEP, which was a biff. Never heard of a GOOSE IRON. 40 minutes, including conversation with the gardeners who didn’t know ORRIS, a term I only know from my wife’s perfumery supplier. She’s not into carbolic. Great puzzle.
  18. I don’t really know whether that was tough or or not, as I had the  handicap setting up to 11, solving on my android phone with the highly resistant Times app (two letters in, wait for app to catch up, two more letters in requiring extra keystrokes, start over) and supervising two grandchildren.
    But I did likevthe conceit on the tennis question. Think it might well have been tough. An alleged 76 minutes, before applying handicap elements.

  19. 38 min – but really DNF, as after 10 min with blank SW corner trying to think of a cheese which included an anagram of ‘faces’ resorted to aid which made it clear that I’d read wrong way round – then rest went in rapidly, with 24ac LOI. I do know GOOSE, though it didn’t come to mind immediately, as was looking for something with FE, the setter’s favourite mistaken iron.
  20. Without the paper for a couple of weeks while working away, I’ve been keeping my hand in with Book 20. So I had no problem with TARRAGONA, which appeared in one I did a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t find this as hard as some – TAILGATER leading to GOOSE STEP were my last two. ECTOPLASM was my favourite, but there were several others made me smile too. 21′ 20″.
  21. What a rotter – makes me glad I don’t blog the 15 x 15 (see QC blog today for context).

    I didn’t help myself by biffing GIANT STEP for progress and not pursuing the missing iron reference, so this held me up with the SE.

    I saw POSSET straight away, as well as CUP TIES and ECTOPLASM, but struggled with nearly everything else. Thanks to the blogger for filling in all of the missing parsing.

  22. Eventually ran out of steam with Tailgater, Goose and Orris missing. I did contemplate Goose, but (not unlike Sotira) struggled to make the equation with “inflexible” and anyway I was convinced 18ac had “not initially apparent” as the definition and started with an F (root of Folk). So, it just wasn’t gonna happen…

    Very enjoyable challenge in a masochistic kind of way. The surface of 17ac appealed, and thought 11ac was full of cunning misdirection. Thanks to George and setter.

  23. 55m all correct so tough but pleasing solve as I know a year or so ago I would not have finished this. God bless the bloggers, I say, especially Jimbo’s little gnome ‘Lift and separate!’ which helped a lot today. No real hold ups until the last two : ORRIS and GOOSE STEP. No idea where the goose came from so thanks to the blogger for explaining that and others of my biffs, such as CUCKOO etc. and thank you, setter. The obscurities today were all familiar to me, obviously the mark of a brilliant setter!
  24. I get a lot of satisfaction from solving a toughie like this. 44 mins of deep thought including much cogitation on 9 letter cheeses of the world which might contain an anagram of “faces” and possible Scottish comedy duos of the 1960’s. No DNK’s as well which shows how devious most of the clues were. LOI was THRIFTY.
  25. 24 mins, but with a knock in the middle of it much like yesterday, so based on what the rest of you have said about the puzzle I must have been somewhere near the setter’s wavelength. However, I realised too late that despite parsing it correctly and knowing how to spell “refectory” I’d written in “reflecter” rather than the correct answer. Muppet. I had the most trouble in the SE and ECTOPLASM was my LOI after the ORRIS/GOOSE-STEP crossers.
  26. It’s always a bit daunting when none of the across clues yield on first pass, this despite immediately thinking of gum arabic but not equating arabic with tongue, deciding instead to look for a piece of office equipment. Luckily the downs fell more easily and provided helpful checkers for the rest. Diverted like others into trying to find the cheese.
  27. 48 minutes today. BEYOND THE FRINGE and GUM ARABIC went in easily. It was the unknown TARRAGONA and ELAND, not to mention the goose, that made me chew my biro in despair. Even so, I finished it quicker than yesterday’s, which for some reason I found very hard. Not enough beer, perhaps. There’s nothing like sobriety for dulling the wits.
  28. Very difficult but I made it all in the end except for tailgater. Probably because I did not get it I thought tailgater was a horrid clue. Many others were a delight and the comments today show how very different our personal knowledge is. No trouble for me with gum arabic, beyond the fringe, orris, goose iron or eland, whereas I am often stumped by the musical and scientific clues. Thanks for explaining where the cuckoo came from – I had no proper parsing of this clue – just put it in as it fitted the checkers and definition. I did enjoy the puzzle very much although I found it so difficult. Once I would have given up. Thanks setter and blogger.
  29. Glad to get over the line on this one. Untimed but might have been about 45 min. Rather like the inflexible as rigid goose-step, and the whimsically crashed gate, which after all is in the metaphor, also the def. or surrogate of abstain. An elasticity about, the next best thing to real wit.
  30. Well, that was quite tough. It took me about an hour, stalling everywhere around the grid. I also sought the cheese, and didn’t really know of the ‘sketches, once’ def., so that went only after the checkers appeared. Also DNK the iron goose or posset. Whew. I’ll credit the setter with some very cunning definitions today, which had me floundering for what these days was a very long struggle. LOI was ABSTAIN, where the part of speech seemed wrong to me. Regards to all.
  31. And I thought it was just me having problems with this! I started OK in the NW corner but came a cropper with the long central down clue. I didn’t spot the anagram material and was looking for some tennis related phrase. I knew the GOOSE – I think we’ve had it before. And I have happy memories of a choir trip to TARRAGONA where we had a celebration meal in an ancient cellar in the old town. I also wasted time looking for a 9 letter cheese beginning with B. Got there in the end. 45 minutes. Ann
  32. A rather dreary slog in 14:08. Not my sort of puzzle: it didn’t really feel like a Times crossword to me.
  33. 78 mins in two sessions, so outside my target time. Macbeth helped here twice – “I have drugged their (the guards)POSSETS”, presumably an evening drink rather than a dessert, and also the porter’s line welcoming imaginary visitors to hell – “Come in tailor, here you may roast your GOOSE”.

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