Times 26503 – Get rid of some cherubs, say?

Solving time: 90 minutes

Music: John Coltrane, A Love Supreme, Ballads

Maybe I have been spending too much time on Mephisto, maybe I was not on the wavelength, but after five minutes I knew I was in trouble. This one screams Bank Holiday Puzzle, made to last all day so you have something to do. Well, here in NY I have plenty to do already, and so was a bit irked.

Was it really that hard? It is difficult to say; I could have solved many clues faster with a little bit of a push. For example, I saw ‘violate’ early on, but rejected it because it does not mean ‘disregard’, only to see much later that there is indeed a sense of ‘disregard’ that fits very well.

So I don’t know what to expect for times for our usual crew. This is probably the sort of puzzle that you either get or don’t get. We’ll see.

1 RELATIVE, double definition. I was tempted by ‘personal’ at first, but couldn’t make it work.
5 PURSES, PURSE[R]S, my LOI, but not really that hard.
10 FUSEE, FUSE + E; I needed a few crossing letters, not having heard of the watch part. It is actually quite a clever device to solve the problem of variable force as a spring loses tension.
11 MANICHEAN, MANIC HE + AN. Not ‘gent’, and not ‘man’, but the simple ‘he’.
13 RADAR, R[oyal] A[cademy of] D[ramatic] A[rt] + R.
14 AL DENTE, A[-r+L]DENT + E[ast], our favorite bridge player.
18 ACCORD, sounds like A CHORD, and in many dialects and pronunciations too!
20 VANILLA, ALL IN A V backwards, surprisingly never seen before.
22 ALARM ALA R[oyal] M[arines].
23 PROBOSCIS, PRO + BOS(C[hannel] I[slands])S
25 KAMA SUTRA, anagram of TRAUMA, ASK. At first glance I was afraid this was some sort of dreadful homonym clue (‘ask for’) involving sutures, but then enlightenment struck.
26 SHAKO, SHAK[espeare] + O.
27 REDUCE, RED + [p]UCE, another modest but clever clue.
28 RECYCLED, R.E. CYCLED, which sounds like a stunt in Monty’s attempt to capture Caen.
1 RIFLEMAN, NAME L FIR upside-down.
2 LASSO, LASS + O, the only chestnut in the whole puzzle.
3 THE SOUND OF MUSIC, anagram of TOUCHES OF NUDISM. I don’t know what the Trapp family would say about this one….
4 VAMPIRE, [-e+VA]MPIRE, another substitution clue.
6 UNCEREMONIOUSLY, anagram of MERELY INNOCUOUS. I had trouble with this one because early in my solve I miscounted the letters and thought it couldn’t be an anagram.
7 SPEEDWELL, S(DEEP upside-down)WELL, a rather complex clue, especially if you don’t know the flower. The only ‘Speedwell’ I knew was the second ship on the first voyage to Plymouth, which had to return to England due to leaks.
8 SENTRY, S ENTRY; OK, maybe another chestnut.
9 UNLESS, double definition, where ‘more’ is the ‘un-less’.
15 DECLAIMED, double defintion, similar to the last, where ‘withdrawn’ is ‘de-claimed’
17 PASSWORD, PASS WORD, where the literal requires you to complete the cross-reference.
20 VIOLATE, VIOLA + T[iresom]E. What I did not see, vide supra, is the sense of ‘disregard’ required, i.e. ‘violate the law’.
21 HACKER, the evident answer, but I don’t see how the cryptic works. I do hope this is not an outrageous homonym.
24 CRAWL, CRAW + L, my FOI.

35 comments on “Times 26503 – Get rid of some cherubs, say?”

  1. Well I agree that it was a hard one Vinyl. Didn’t feel like a Monday, then I remembered someone mentioning that our distant friends are taking a well-earned break today. Great puzzle to help them through the day.

    COD to THE SOUND OF MUSIC which had me musing about the possibility of a director’s cut. VANILLA, my LOI, was also brilliant.

    MANICHEAN, SHAKO and FUSEE were all entered with a “well, if you say so”, but the wordplay turned out to be reliable.

    Most enjoyable. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  2. HACKER refers to Jim Hacker from the British comedy series “Yes, Prime Minister”. Hence, “PM on TV”.

    One of the better TV comedies, surprised it didn’t make it across the Atlantic.

    1. It took me far too long to get that one, considering I’ve been re-watching it on DVD for the last couple of weeks…
  3. Wondered why a Monday puzzle should be so difficult. Thanks then for the clarification … and glad it wasn’t just me.

    Have to say, I fluked PROBOSCIS by putting the wrong islands (IS) at the end. And wondered long and hard about the LOI, UNLESS. Now stuck with Galspray’s idea of a bluer version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, especially as it crosses near the bottom with KAMA SUTRA. What’s the visual equivalent of an earworm?

  4. An epic fail on the scale of the Sound of Music for me. Couldn’t get 1d (unable to get beyond ‘repeater’), which meant the watch part never clicked. Some nice stuff, with another vote for VANILLA, which was anything but.
    1. Ironically perhaps, a repeater is a type of watch.

      Edited at 2016-08-29 08:34 am (UTC)

  5. My solves continue their current unsatisfactory run typified by getting all but 4-5 answers in something approaching my 30-minute target and then hitting a brick wall and eventually resorting to aids. My unknowns today were FUSEE (deduced from wordplay) and MANICHEAN (not so). Rather annoyingly I also needed aids to find the answers to 6dn (I also missed the anagram) and 28ac.

    MANICHEAN appears not to have come up before except in a discussion re puzzle 26095 in May last year when it was mentioned first by joekobi and then by galspray.

    Edited at 2016-08-29 05:49 am (UTC)

    1. I forgot to say there was a strong nudist movement in Germany between the wars but I’m not sure about the more conservative Austria. Much less likely, I’d have thought.
  6. Not a 20ac crossword at all! A real tough monkey!

    Took me 62 mins with a few un-parsed.

    VANILLA was certainly COD



    A most engaging puzzle – for a Monday!

    horryd Shanghai

  7. 22:48 … terrific puzzle, where I was right on the wavelength except for the second part of the UNLESS clue. I spent 5 minutes on that before gambling that the “if not” part of it was enough to justify the answer. Thanks, vinyl, for explaining the fiendish second def. (which I should have got it, having seen the de-claimed in 15d).

    I think I spent too long looking for a sentry- or door-related answer for 9d. I guess the lack of ellipsis markers at the start of it should have alerted me.

    The Sound of Music anagram nearly caused me a coffee-related keyboard loss. That and VANILLA my favourites among a rich crop. Thanks S & B

    Edited at 2016-08-29 07:26 am (UTC)

  8. Embarrassingly spelled MANICHEAN wrong, assuming ACHE somehow signalled the obsessive MAN, making my lightning solve of 36 minutes even further off the scale. But this was a proper challenge with some delightful touches: A LA RM, UN-LESS, DE-CLAIMED especially tickling the fancy. I think I probably fell for every trap, including the von Trapp – it didn’t look like an anagram and anything less likely to include nudism is hard to imagine (though I’m sure someone’s tried: How do you…like Maria, Idle Vice, brown paper packages tied up with strings discretely to your door… – I do hope I haven’t started something).
    I also convinced myself that the Corps at 28 was REME, though I thought -DIED was an extreme if effective way of avoiding marching.
    Not my finest hour, then, but a great one for the setter..
  9. Ah, so the bank holiday ones are tougher? I’m very glad to hear that, as I spent far, far longer on this one that I normally would before finally giving up with a few left. It was worth keeping going just for brilliant answers like VANILLA, though.

    I could have had one fewer left over if I’d trusted my PURSES and thought about it. On the other hand, not sure I’d ever have got to the unknown MANICHEAN (though I flirted with MANICsomething for quite some time) or SHAKO, though perhaps that’s just because I only got the S crosser at the last moment.

    Don’t think I’d have got to SPEEDWELL, either (though I knew it was both a plant and the code for the original Golders Green telephone exchange in London, oddly). Doubt I’d have got to 9d even if I hadn’t thought it must be related to 8d.

    I count myself lucky to have got as far as I did, though, especially as I always seem to think puce is green, for some reason… Thanks to setter and blogger, and on with my day, which will hopefully be less of a challenge.

  10. Phew what a challenge! Always thought puce was a sort of pale beige, but apparently it has different definitions here and over the pond. Dnk FUSEE but wordplay worked. Had heard of MANICHEAN heresy, just about. COD undoubtedly VANILLA, spent time looking for an anagram of ‘in plain’ or for a geographical feature ending ..L.A. Jim HACKER, Minister for Adminstrative Affairs before he was PM, was also an excellent clue. Delayed by failing to consider 6d as an anagram. As it’s Bank Holiday, is 3d on the telly as usual? I will now see it in quite a different light. Super, and quite appropriate challenge for this day, 40′. Thanks vinyl and setter.

    Edited at 2016-08-29 08:32 am (UTC)

  11. 43.12. Some testing moments. What the hills are alive with (and indeed fill my heart with) has made a step change.
  12. Failed dismally yesterday but finished this comfortably in 30 minutes. Enjoyed VANILLA and THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

    Now stuck with “How do you spot a cat with Diarrhoea” in my head. Thanks!

  13. 20 mins so I was on the setter’s wavelength, tough as the puzzle was. I’m glad I solved it in the morning and not after a day’s work. MANICHEAN was actually my FOI but it didn’t help me populate the NE quickly because PURSES was my LOI after SPEEDWELL.

    I don’t remember coming across the reversal of VANILLA before (I had been looking for an anagram of “in plain”), and like vinyl I was reluctant to enter VIOLATE until I had all the checkers. Knowing of Jim HACKER certainly helped, and I can see why that clue could cause trouble to some overseas solvers. Count me as another who really enjoyed the anagram for THE SOUND OF MUSIC, especially as it crossed with KAMA SUTRA. Thank you setter.

  14. More on the wavelength than most today, by the sound of it. Finished in half an hour. The KAMA SUTRA pre Chatterley was the stuff of third form humour, thankfully unenacted. DNK but biffed FUSEE, similarly SHAKO once checkers in place. Saw good old Jim Hacker straightaway, but I guess not readily available across the Atlantic. Don’t know that much about Manichaeism, but I’ve often felt it deserves a better press than gets. “He emerged from the darkness and walked into the light. Clang.” I’ve never liked AL DENTE stuff: either cook it fully or eat it raw. Unlike steak which should be rare. No, I don’t dunk my jaffa cakes, Mary Berry. Great puzzle.
  15. 23m. I only managed four or five answers on my first pass through this, so I thought I was in for a real stinker. It was hard, but not quite that bad. Suberb puzzle though: full of wit and originality. Thanks setter!

    Edited at 2016-08-29 02:54 pm (UTC)

  16. Phew! This one took me 7 minutes over the hour and I still got one wrong. I’d never heard of MANICHEAN so biffed MANICLEON:-( Relied on wordplay for FUSEE and SHAKO. I also hesitated over VIOLATE until it couldn’t be anything else. Agree VANILLA is an excellent clue. The NE corner delayed me the longest, apart from FOI, SENTRY. LOI my wrong entry MANICLEON. Smiled at HACKER. Thanks setter for a bit of a challenge and V for unravelling it.
  17. Enjoyable, with a few easy ones (1ac, 2, 8, 17, 24) to get you going and a nice variety of clever clues. My first thought for 3 was “The Birth of Venus” but luckily I didn’t write it in! A few clues I didn’t manage to parse, e.g. 11 and 26, though #facepalm moment when I saw the explanations! FOI 6 LOI 12 COD 19
  18. Ooh, I really liked this one! Several laugh-out-loud moments, and one of the best 15-letter anagrams I’ve ever seen.. good stuff, setter! So many good clues .. 22ac, 20ac, 19dn.. endless list.
  19. I got on to this one early and rather enjoyed it – finishing in about 12 minutes, but managed to do myself in by fat fingering keys at the end of my last in UNCEREMONOIOUSLY, hitting submit and being the first in with two errors. Wheee!
  20. About 45 min. – not easy to get started (8d LOI) though then steadily worked up from bottom half, with 3d providing distracting food for imagination. Held up by expecting the heretic at 11a to be that old crosswordland favourite ARIAN, and solving 15d as EXCLAIMED, so LOI was 14a.
  21. Same experience, about an hour in 3 stabs between chores, DNK FUSE, MANICHEAN or SHAKO but stuck in from word play. Vacillated over VIOLATE and VANILLA until I twigged how it works, very good. No public holiday here but every day is a holiday these days! Now to the jumbo.
  22. A great puzzle. Didn’t know FUSEE but it was easily gettable from the cryptic. Loved VANILLA and the clever anagram at 3d. 33 minutes. Ann
  23. As I am currently in France I forgot it was a holiday and wondered why a Monday puzzle was so difficult. Took me about 40 mins which doesn’t seem too bad after reading the comments above. I correctly recognised the “v” element of 20ac but originally bunged in “savanna” – that is “as” wheeling with a “v” and happily ignoring the “anna” bit. No problem with any of the GK and solved anti-clockwise with PURSES my LOI.
  24. I came charging into this after close to a PB for the quickie and confidently biffed in PERSONAL for 1a and NO DUMMY for 14a before screeching to a halt. Serves me right for lack of respect. After slowly unpicking my mess, I found I enjoyed this a lot. The juxtaposition of the clue to 3d and answer to 25a had me smiling at the thought of the Von Trapps using a sex manual. FUSEE and MANICHEAM were unknowns and I was unconvinced by DECLAIMED and UNLESS, my LOI (looking in vain for a link to the previous clue). COD to VANILLA, which I thought was very tasteful. 29:45

    Edited at 2016-08-29 03:45 pm (UTC)

    1. I wonder if the Trapp family version of the Kama Sutra is given in that list of favourite things? Whiskers on kittens? Warm woollen mittens? Schnitzel with noodles? Wild geese?
  25. Tackled this feeling distinctly below par as a result of a previous night of the type that those of my vintage should no longer be indulging in, so put my sluggish performance down to that rather than any perceived difficulty within the puzzle. So, mightily relieved to find that the worthy crew here regarded it as a toughie.

    Hugely enjoyable notwithstanding my shaky state, with the 3d anagram being right up there as an all time classic in my humble opinion (on a par with Dean Mayer’s Watering Hole anagram starring the busty barmaid in the ST 4695). Thanks to setter and Vinyl.

  26. Probably just as well that I didn’t time myself on this one, my solving certainly wasn’t quick, and I was pleased to complete it successfully without recourse to aids. Good stuff though.

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