Times 26,579: Let The Wookiee Win

Running late this morning so it’s a laconic blog you’ll be getting (sounds of cheers from jackkt et al). Did this on paper in an unremarkable, but pleasingly rational, 11:44. At first I thought it a bit middle-of-the-road for a Friday puzzle, but actually I think this may be because it both (a) uses exactly the same grid as the last one I blogged, and (b) contains a very similar clue to last week’s 1ac at 22dn, and almost the same answer in the same grid location at 24dn! So a nagging sense of familiarity may have done the proverbial, but I don’t think that’s the puzzle itself’s fault.

Good construction, commendably unbiffable definition parts, and a few smile-raising clues (1dn, 5dn, 17dn) make this an overall winner in the eyes of the Friday judge. My clue of the day though goes to the very clever indeed 11ac. Thanks setter!

Oh, by the way, there are still Plans Afoot for more London-based Setters & Bloggers meetups but I’ve been sick as a basenji all month so November has fallen by the wayside. Anyone got any availability/desired dates for December?


1 Plant employees’ outer clothing protected by uniform (6)
SESAME – E{mploye}S’ [“outer clothing”] protected by SAME [uniform]

4 Variety of tips welcomed by female follower of fashion (7)
HIPSTER – (TIPS*) [“variety of…”] welcomed by HER [female]

9 Outstanding all-rounder finally eliminated from water sport (5)
OWING – {r}OWING [water sport, “eliminating” the final letter of {all-rounde}R]

10 Special operations winkling out European killer (3, 6)
RAT POISON – (OP{e}RATIONS*) [“special…”, “winkling out E (European)”]

11 Affecting circulation of the French best seller? (9)
EMOTIONAL – reverse [“circulation of…”] LA NO. 1 TOME.

12 Sea air I discovered east of Australia (5)
OZONE – ONE [I] discovered east (i.e. to the right) of OZ [Australia]

13 Meaning to dismiss Head, causing disagreement (4)
RIFT – {d}RIFT [meaning, “to dismiss Head”, i.e. its first letter]

14 Lack of harmony is issue in waltz, say (10)
DISSONANCE – IS SON [is issue] in DANCE [waltz, say]

18 Type of bread with pickle, good with some water (10)
WHOLEGRAIN – W HOLE G [with | pickle | good] + RAIN [some water]

20 Fish choking nets (4)
HOKI – “netted” by {c}HOKI{ng}

23 Plant, one found near river, secured by stake (5)
BRIAR – I [one] found near R [river], secured by BAR [stake]

24 Wise caterers employed by Southbank theatre will? (9)
PROVIDENT – said caterers will PROVIDE N.T. (the National Theatre, that is)

25 Flower otherwise withers (5,4)
WHITE ROSE – (OTHERWISE*) [“withers”]

26 Writer‘s current book dispatched without back cover (5)
IBSEN – I B SEN{t} [current | book | dispatched “without back cover”]

27 Prepare for attack from English forest, briefly (2, 5)
EN GARDE ENG ARDE{n} [English | forest “briefly”]

28 Vintage red? We will imbibe one mouthful between meals? (6)
CHEWIE CHE [(Guevara), a famous old-time red] + WE imbibing I [one]. A somewhat annoying word for gum, it seems…


1 Screws up protecting small business? No-one’s a winner with this (5, 4)
SCORE DRAW – WARDERS reversed [screws “up”], protecting CO [“small” business]

2 Good number beginning to faint in science fiction film, perhaps (7)
SPIN-OFF – PI NO. F [good | number | “beginning to” F{aint}] in SF [science fiction]

3 Woman heading off big game, stampeding (6)
MAGGIE – ({b}IG GAME*) [“heading off”, “stampeding”]

4 Accommodation no longer available to rent? That’s a pity, on reflection (5)
HOTEL – LET OH [no longer available to rent | that’s a pity], all reversed [“on reflection”]

5 Advocate not supporting single European currency? (8)
PROPOUND – If you are not in favour of the Euro, you are presumably PRO-POUND instead…

6 Old silver coin collection rejected as well: new (7)
TESTOON – reverse of SET [collection “rejected”] + TOO N [as well | new]

7 Stove with burnersall a stockist has (5)
RANGE – double def

8 £5 I’ve spent on line? That’s the limit (8
FRONTIER – F{ive}R [£5, with the “I’ve” spent] ON TIER [line]

15 Fielder finished top (8)
SLIPOVER – SLIP OVER [fielder | finished]

16 Old weapon put in cold storage for life (9)
EXISTENCE – EX [old] + STEN [weapon] stored in ICE [cold]

17 My twice-used letter opener? (4, 4)
DEAR, DEAR – “DEAR” is the first word of many letters; twice over.

19 Thinking old doctor will turn up to fix hip at home (7)
OPINING – O [old] + G.P. reversed [doctor “will turn up”], to fix IN IN [hip | at home]

21 Supervised deliveries? Bless! (7)
OVERSAW – OVERS AW [deliveries | bless!]

22 Polish: spoken European language (6)
FINISH – homophone of FINNISH [“spoken” European language]

23 Former singer and blog writer, oddly (5)
BOWIE – B{l}O{g} W{r}I{t}E{r}, “oddly”. Few were odder than the Thin White Duke. In a good way.

24 Experts on English translation exercise (5)
PROSE – PROS [experts] on E [English]

39 comments on “Times 26,579: Let The Wookiee Win”

  1. 25 minutes. COD to EMOTIONAL although I enjoyed FRONTIER. Good to see CHE clued as “vintage red” and not the usual “revolutionary”.
  2. Rather vanilla flavoured bog standard puzzle that was a straightforward, somewhat dull, solve.
  3. As with yesterdays I found this harder than average, with the NW corner in particular holding me up. It felt strange to see BOWIE in here – although it meets the unwritten rule of only names of the deceased being used it seems to me that normally we only see those who are long since departed. Perhaps that’s just my perception?
    1. I seem to remember EGON RONAY making an appearance in recent years, though it might have been on the weekend when there are fewer rules. I had to go check he had passed away – in 2010 apparently.
      1. I have not forgotten seeing (Valentina) Tereshkova in the daily cryptic .. at the last count, still with us. Here you go .. and we were rather more civilised in those days – only 12 comments, and no real criticism at all.

        Edited at 2016-11-26 04:23 pm (UTC)

  4. 9.34, which was top of the leaderboard when I submitted, woo hoo! I didn’t stay there for long, of course.
    By ‘sick as a basenji’ do you mean ‘suffering in silence’? Hope you’re feeling better, in any case.
  5. Opener 1ac SESAME heralds the pantomime season already!

    I crawled home in 65 mins.

    DNK 20ac HOKI presumably a dancing fish served with Coca Cola up in Tokyo?

    FOI 17dn Dear Dear! LOI 28ac CHEWIE dear dear!

    I note that 23dn (David) BOWIE appears in the Times Xword so soon – is there a decent time lapse for such tributes?


  6. Don’t let me influence you, Verlaine, as I’m a firm believer in bloggers writing in whatever style suits them and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t vary from week to week to fit one’s mood, time available, amount of things to say etc. I’m only speaking for myself if I say that in general the more that’s written the less I’m likely to read whilst giving it my full attention.

    I needed 50 minutes but enjoyed it a lot. LBOI was the unknown TESTOON which also caught me out when it appeared in 2010 as TESTON. Still, the wordplay was clear enough and I worked it out correctly, which is always satusfying. LOI was CHEWIE, again worked out from wordplay. This seems to be new to the Times, but once it was solved I thought I had seen it before.

    Edited at 2016-11-25 10:22 am (UTC)

  7. At around one and a quarter Verlaines, this puzzle was an unusual breeze for me, perhaps because I was doing it before 0700. Several went in unparsed including DEAR DEAR which I tossed a mental coin for against HEAR HEAR, so thanks for the blog V.
  8. Agree with jimbo, a bit boring, apart from 11a being clever. Wrote in CHEWIE without an idea what it was, but no other option from the wordplay. 25 minutes or so.
  9. Struggled with several today, but with biffs got there in 50 minutes. Rejected CHEWIE before remembering that we did call it that in my youth. Such a low class habit, no wonder I’m not in the Athenaeum. Found it hard to write WHITE ROSE down, even though my Y chromosome is Yorkie. The EMOTIONAL FRONTIER was the last to be overcome, FRONTIER parsed, EMOTIONAL biffed. Unlike the pros, I didn’t find this vanilla, a much maligned and subtle flavour anyway.
    1. I’ve been rehearsing Barbara Allen so I can play it at the folk club 🙂 Weird sort of song celebrating getting together in death!
      1. Sounds like you’ve got a great folk club going,John. Graveyards make me feel animistic too. I first heard Barbara Allen on a Joan Baez EP I bought in 1963, with Mary Hamilton, All my Trials, and 500 miles as the other tracks. As always with Joan, it’s a gorgeous rendition. My married older sister Lynda, born the opposite end of the war to me, came round and having played her Freewheelin’ I put the EP on. Joan pronounces Barbara as Barbrey, which Lynda, who’d sung the song in her schooldays, didn’t like at all and said so in no uncertain terms. She’s sadly gone now, but the memory’s made me realise that if she was still living, she’d still be five years older than me, and, if we do meet up again some day on God’s golden shore, she still will be. And that’s how it should be.
        1. We always have memories that are suddenly brought into sharp focus by a particular reminder. Nice if they’re pleasant ones. I noticed JB sings Barbrey and downloaded the lyrics to check. I use Barbara:-)I have Joan Baez Volumes 1 and 2 and have just listened to Love is Just a Four Letter Word; Lass from the Low Country is playing now. More music, of a different strain, for me to listen to tomorrow: my granddaughter is singing in the choir at Ampleforth Abbey, so a family trip is de rigueur:-)
          1. Another great Dylan song he more or less threw away. Just listened to Joan sing it on Youtube. Beautiful. Enjoy Ampleforth, that sounds fantastic too.

            Edited at 2016-11-25 04:08 pm (UTC)

  10. I had CHEWIE from those sweets I used to buy when young, four for a penny. Like others, COD undoubtedly to EMOTIONAL. Biffed WHITE ROSE, wondered where the O and E came from, thanks for parsing. 20′, thanks v and setter.
    1. The ‘4 for 1d’ jobs were Fruit Salad and Blackjack Chews and you can still get them (at a slightly higher price!). I got this from the wordplay though.
  11. 45mins for me. Like it when the unknowns are unambiguously clued: TESTOON, HOKI, STEN(=weapon) and… CHEWIE!
  12. Thought some of the clues were poor- i.e. I didn’t get them- got e.g emotional straight away but aw for bless and chewie? – hmm. 45 mins with help
  13. Unlike Pootle, I filled the NW pretty quickly and then slowed down. FOI was SESAME. Like Robrolfe I shrugged WHITE ROSE in, wondering where the O and E came from, administering a mental slap on the forehead when I read the blog. I liked this puzzle, which took 40 minutes to complete. My LOI was BRIAR, corrected from BRIET once I’d figured out DEAR DEAR. Liked FRONTIER and EMOTIONAL. Also liked CHE for Vintage Red. Thanks setter and V.
  14. Chewie unknown so googled we have the Star Wars rebel as referred to in the blog header.Oz slang for chewing gum and US slang especially Cal for a hollowed out cigar with the tobacco replaced with marijuana and cocaine.No doubt you can speak fluent Wookieen after one of those.About 40 mins today so it was chewy for me. aw!
  15. Must have been having a bad brain day yesterday since this one took me 14:42 but on reflection there was nothing too obscure and all the wordplay was clear. Must have been staring at various screens for too long yesterday.
  16. I for one am glad V was running late. My hour was over with three left to get: not the unknowns or other weird words, surprisingly, but 5d and the crossers of 8d and 11a.

    Luckily the blog not being there first thing to rescue me allowed me to have another stab just now, during lunch, and I finally worked out the rather nice EMOTIONAL and FRONTIER and the bleedin’-obvious-once-seen PROPOUND as my LOI.

    All told, about an hour and ten, but possibly with a lot of background cogitation as I spent the morning moving servers around on t’internets. Personally I rather enjoyed this one, though CHEWIE left me a bit nonplussed…

  17. 18:39 with FRONTIER and the excellent EMOTIONAL holding me up at the end. Slight quibble at 16d, are ICE and COLD synonyms? Alternatively do we have to accept that IN ICE = IN COLD STORAGE?
  18. Around 45 minutes, as I recall, and like others I didn’t find this in the least vanilla, even managing to get one wrong that no one else could find, which makes me feel a little special (brier). Thanks to my Oxonian colleague for the parsing of 21d, where I couldn’t get beyond over for deliveries and spent the day wondering how saw means bless.

    Which reminds me of a joke for the weekend:

    ‘Who was that woman I seen you with last night?’

    ‘You mean, “I saw”?’

    ‘Okay. Who was that eyesore I seen you with last night?’

    Edited at 2016-11-25 01:57 pm (UTC)

    1. Horryd, I’m not giving out my email address, but you can contact me privately via LJ by clicking on my user name and selecting “Send message”
  19. An uncontroversial trundle today after yesterday’s yeast extract spread of opinion, completed (with careful checking, of course) in 19 and a bit minutes.
    BOWIE was the unwelcome reminder of the day, of course, but can I add a Norwegian blue conundrum. He maybe an ex-Bowie, but since he has undoubtedly joined the Choir Invisible, is he a former singer?
    I assumed CHEWIE had to be an Australian version of chewing gum, but was propmted (as V) to add a Wookiee flavour. So here’s the clue in Shyriiwook: “aarrragghuuhw aaahnruh huuguughghg huurh huurh huurh hnnnhrrhhh aaaaahnr uughguughhhghghghhhgh raaaaaahhgh” I feel better now.
  20. 18 mins. I finished the bottom half a lot faster than the top, and eventually finished with TESTOON after the RAT POISON/FRONTIER crossers. I was a little surprised to see CHEWIE in a Times puzzle but it was fairly (and nicely) clued so no complaints.

    Edited at 2016-11-25 08:04 pm (UTC)

  21. Forty-eight minutes for me, with only two in after a first pass. Then I took a break and, as so often happens, as soon as I returned to the grid I found it just as hard as before.

    FRONTIER was my LOI, mainly because I couldn’t get the “-IER” – “more so” concept out of my head. Clearly, though, a frontier is not more front.

  22. I’m a fifty-minuter, too, and surprised I finished OK. TESTOON was just an intelligent guess. HOKI has engraved itself in my memory from a puzzle years ago, when I was much out of practice and very pleased at having worked out wordplay involving a half-hearted HOOK, as I recall. My LOI, which took the last 10 minutes, was SLIPOVER, after I convinced myself it was probably an easily donned PULLOVER and thus a top. I supposed that just about any English word could designate a fielder in cricket, so I took the risk that SLIP might also be such a word. Whew!

    I agree about the COD: EMOTIONAL is quite good, even though I didn’t parse the clue completely right (I didn’t quite see why it would mean “affecting circulation”, but of course it doesn’t, so thank you for explaining how the wordplay works).

    Edited at 2016-11-25 07:13 pm (UTC)

  23. 17:03 for me, again having difficulty finding the setter’s wavelength. (I suspect this may be the person who tends to push definitions a little bit further than I’m comfortable with.)

    Like others, I’d never come across CHEWIE before.

    Cracking time from keriothe.

  24. Excellent puzzle and blog, found some of the comments a bit vanilla.

    FRONTIER, OVERSAW, CHEWIE and EMOTIONAL were outstanding. Thanks setter and Verlaine.

  25. Just dropped in to pick up Verlaine’s blog for Friday and hoping to see some references to Friday’s Savages gig! But there are none that I can see.

    I was there at the front and held Jehnny’s hand to steady her for her final crowd walk!

    After my enquiry a few weeks ago about really experienced solvers being able to deduce the identity of the setters Verlaine gave a most illuminating reply for which I was very grateful – and I see that it has proved a minor theme in some of his blogs since which again I have found most interesting when I have caught them.

    But I don’t catch them often enough and I must start dropping in more often!

    Yes quite enjoyed this one and thanks to setter and blogger, but I found the day before a much ‘chewier’ challenge (although I haven’t looked at the blog yet so don’t know what anyone else thought).

  26. Sorry I am posting this again because I did not mean to remain anonymous! I don’t do this often enough to know what I’m doing.

    Just dropped in to pick up Verlaine’s blog for Friday and hoping to see some references to Friday’s Savages gig! But there are none that I can see.

    I was there at the front and held Jehnny’s hand to steady her for her final crowd walk!

    After my enquiry a few weeks ago about really experienced solvers being able to deduce the identity of the setters Verlaine gave a most illuminating reply for which I was very grateful – and I see that it has proved a minor theme in some of his blogs since which again I have found most interesting when I have caught them.

    But I don’t catch them often enough and I must start dropping in more often!

    Yes quite enjoyed this one and thanks to setter and blogger, but I found the day before a much ‘chewier’ challenge (although I haven’t looked at the blog yet so don’t know what anyone else thought).

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