Times 26,645: Martyred Slaves of Time

After flamethrowing the candle earlier in the week it seemed prudent to get an early night on Thursday and tackle this first thing in the a.m. My brain is rarely functioning at its most smoothly before the bottom of the first cup of coffee and this cunning puzzle didn’t permit me to clock out until just after the 10 minute mark.

If the mark of an excellent puzzle is that it parses without much resistance, then allow me to observe post-parsing that this was a rather excellent puzzle: with an honourable exception for the very elaborately constructed 17dn, each clue here succumbs very readily to its cryptic interpretation. Two rather good &lits were a treat and, possibly not uncoincidentally, my Last Two In, after an abortive doomed attempt at MADDAM for 20ac, and with my clock ticking down helplessly for a long time at the end over 6dn until the &lit penny dropped, HOY being an island rather than a boat in my internal cryptic lexicon. 11dn was a write-in for this wannabe computer scientist, and others like 10ac, 12ac, and 26ac definitely went in not fully parsed, once the definition part could be correctly sifted out with the help of a few letters.

Personally as a TLS kind of guy I might have liked a bit more literary or GK in my puzzle, but no doubt others feel the opposite, and will say that 20ac, 26ac and 11dn were more than sufficient in that department thank you very much. Top marks for topicality at 5ac but my Clue of the Day goes to 4dn which just felt neat and well-surfaced. Many thanks to the setter!


1 Flawless screen getting smashed (8)
AIRTIGHT – AIR [screen] getting TIGHT [smashed]
5 Reverence for Muslims sadly rejected by leaders in America? (6)
SALAAM – ALAS reversed [sadly “rejected”] by AM{erica}
9 Coach player wanting change? Not half (3)
BUS – BUS{ker}
10 He won’t serve duke G&T and far odder brews! (5,6)
12 Sulphur rots mineral affected after being carried up? (6-4)
SADDLE-SORE – S ADDLES ORE [sulphur | rots | mineral]
13 Greek god’s drawn in line drawing (4)
PLAN – PAN [Greek god] has drawn in L [line]
15 Arab from India on enemy ground (6)
YEMENI – I [India] on (ENEMY*) [“ground”]
16 Half naked, did a jig, not initially subtle (7)
18 Note flipping sharp learner in examination (7)
MEDICAL – ME [note] + reversed ACID [“flipping” sharp”] + L [learner]
20 Woman who’s all-round crazy? (6)
MAENAD – ENA [woman] who has MAD [crazy] all round, &lit
23 Grouse seriously could be a wading bird (4)
RAIL – double def
24 Halt cannon shot, showing composure (10)
26 Where to find cash one’s put in kitty for painter (11)
POINTILLIST – IN TILL + I’S [where to find cash | one’s] put in POT [kitty]
27 Have time away from built-up area (3)
OWN – {t}OWN
28 Suffering around the eyes, but uncongested, we’re told (6)
RHEUMY – homophone, though some will ever disagree, of ROOMY [uncongested, “we’re told”]
29 Risk money, a pound, after some light shopping? (8)
BETRAYAL – BET [risk money] + A L [a | pound] after RAY [some light]


1 Attack from rising Turkish submarine (6)
AMBUSH – reverse hidden in {turkis}H SUBMA{rine}
2 It’s left for all to see in lodge (7)
RESIDUE – U [for all to see] in RESIDE [lodge]
3 Understanding clue ending badly (10)
4 Someone must pay teacher with drink and bread (5,4,4)
HEADS WILL ROLL – HEAD [teacher] with SWILL [drink] and ROLL [bread]
6 Opener from admiral meeting boat? (4)
AHOY – A{dmiral} + HOY [boat]. A hoy being “a small sloop-rigged coasting ship or a heavy barge used for freight”.
7 Sweet, posh lass detained in a jail briefly (7)
ANGELIC – GEL [posh lass] “detained” in A NIC{k}
8 To sit in liquid surrounding trailer is jolly! (8)
MARINADE – surrounding AD [trailer] is MARINE [jolly, as in Jolly Jack Tar]
11 Computer parts ruining the odd computer, theoretically (6,7)
TURING MACHINE – MAC [computer] “parts” (RUINING THE*) [“odd”]
14 Female embraced by guy in film, one with conviction? (10)
MALEFACTOR – F [female] embraced by MALE ACTOR [guy in film]
17 Person selling clothing in Miami returning skirts for not fitting (8)
IMPROPER – REP [person selling] + M{iam}I [“clothing in” Miami], reversed [“returning”], “skirts” PRO [for]. That was probably a good one to be able to biff – whew!
19 Judge admitting one religious offence? (7)
DEICIDE – DECIDE [judge] admitting I [one]
21 Physique some must cover a little bit (7)
ANATOMY – ANY [some] covers ATOM [a little bit]
22 Area with mostly lofty houses working without a key (6)
ATONAL – A [area] with TAL{l} [“mostly” lofty] “houses” ON [working]
25 Staunch, upstanding police force succeeded (4)
STEM – reverse MET S [“upstanding” police force | succeeded]

58 comments on “Times 26,645: Martyred Slaves of Time”

  1. Beaten by AHOY. Looking at it now, it seems so obvious what the clue in toto is getting at, but at the time I thought it must be an unknown word, like an opening bid in bridge or something. So I came here and promptly kicked myself.

    Some terrific stuff, with POINTILLIST standing out for me. Thanks, V and the setter.

  2. Hard work but mostly enjoyable. I failed to parse 9a which is rather good now that I see it. Failed to solve 20ac without resort to aids. I never heard of MAENAD or knew what it meant, despite the fact that it came up in a puzzle I blogged last May clued as “Girl inducted by crazed bacchante”. Perhaps that wordplay was a little more helpful than today’s.
    1. I meant to make a comment about that one. I happened to know it, but if I hadn’t I doubt I’d have got there.
  3. 5ac my LOI pointedly political methink!? SALAAM indeed POTUS REX! 15ac YEMENI also present.

    This was a struggle that took me well over the hour but 6dn A-HOY well-known.

    FOI was the blindingly simple 1dn AMBUSH.

    I thought little of 4dn HEADS WILL ROLL.

    8dn To sit in liquid MARINADE or MARINATE? It had to be the former. I thought -ADE was the liquid and -ATE the action (or lack of it!).


  4. 18m, with four or five minute of head scratching at the end before MAENAD emerged from the wordplay. I don’t know if I actually knew it at a subconscious level but it certainly looked very plausible as some kind of fury or one of those other classics things.
    As well as 5ac and 15ac we have a reference to everyone’s favourite orange fascist at 10ac. Unintentional from the setter, no doubt, and probably saying more about the grim purchase he is has my imagination, like some kind of moronic, Twitter-based bogeyman. Sad!
    1. I’ve been really enjoying the Donaeld the Unready Twitter account over the past few days if that kind of mashup is your cup of tea:

      “Canute. What a loser. Can’t even hold back the sea. It’s just water. We’re going to be so tough on the sea. Canute was too soft. Sad.”

  5. Odd how these things work, but at 10 across my immediate thought was of Hillary’s hubby. (I trust they are still married – apologies if they’ve made it formal.) Plenty to like here, even the stuff I biffed, which, being a Twitter-obsessed Championship entrant manqué, was more than I could shake a selfie-stick at. Or would be, if I had a Twitter account.

    48 minutes, but surely not good enough to achieve my target…

    1. Yes to be fair the Donald’s draft record is far from unique. George W Bush for instance avoided active service by joining the Air National Guard, or FANG as it was known in more mainstream military circles. Until he deliberately prolongs one for electoral advantage Trump’s war record will not be the most ignominious among post-WWII presidents.

      Edited at 2017-02-10 09:32 am (UTC)

      1. I was largely anti him at the time, for the association with Ms Palin if nothing else, but with hindsight it’s kind of sad we never got a President John McCain…
        1. Now there is a record of service no-one but a contemptible buffoon would question. And of course he has.
          What we all really want to see is President John McClane.

          Edited at 2017-02-10 10:00 am (UTC)

        2. I’m not thoroughly convinced that taking part in and being captured in a misbegotten war is much of a recommendation, though I hasten to add I have nothing against Mr McCain.
          1. Those who admire him tend to focus less on the actual capturing and more on the years of torture voluntarily endured by refusing an offer of release ahead of his fellow POWs.
            1. Absolutely, but, though I am no Chomsky (God forbid!), the Vietnam War stands as a telling testimony to lunacy, and does no credit to all Presidents who did not seek to withdraw from it, which is quite a few. Rather puts the current one in perspective.

              Edited at 2017-02-10 12:32 pm (UTC)

              1. Of course, but credit for service can’t be contingent on the non-misbegottenness of the war in question. If it were it would be in pretty short supply!
  6. Over an hour on this and had to look up the mad woman and the computer before entering them. I also held myself up by having Headsmustroll until I worked out the Arab properly. A tough puzzle with some obscurities and some craftily hidden definitions. Thanks for the blog, V.
  7. Thanks for parsing this V – I got stuck with a cashpoint (we call them ATMs around here but I was trying to use my UK vocab) and then, since the answer was obvious, I gave up. Nice dense puzzle 24.36. Yes I noticed the references to the orange baboon. Laughing through the nausea every day – can’t say it helps.
  8. 55 minutes with the last 15 spent on two wrong answers. ELIN for 13a where I missed PAN and invented an anagram of LINE: and MHERAD for 20a which I’d never heard of. Otherwise an interesting workout. Spotted AHOY eventually. Never did manage to spot the correct anagram fodder for 11d, but knew the concept having been to Bletchley Park several times, so was able to biff from checkers. Liked POINTILLIST and RHEUMY. FOI ANGELIC, Last correct entry AHOY. Thanks setter and V.
  9. dnk this word, have learned something. Rest in about 35 minutes. COD POINTILLIST, and enjoyed RHEUMY. Thanks v and setter. Can I please recommend today’s QC and blog?
  10. My dreadful hangover—I’ve a regular meet-up on the second Thursday of each month which tends to lead to this problem—did not make this puzzle any easier.

    I couldn’t tell you how far over my normal hour I went, but it’s a fairly moot point as I finally, in desperation, bunged in MHERAD for 20a, thinking that it might be “mad” about “her” and possibly a variation of the Irish “Mairead”. Not knowing MAENAD at all, I think this was the best I could have come up with, and it’s nice to know I wasn’t alone—thanks John!

    FOI 16a. My last two correct ones in were the crossers of SALAAM and AHOY. Loved POINTILLIST. As a CS grad, my WOD has to go to TURING MACHINE (I can’t give it clue of the day as it was an immediate biff for me…)

  11. Did this in two parts today with wife-chauffeuring duties in between. (She has an inner ear virus and can’t drive for the time being.) DNF even after about 50 minutes, giving up the good fight on AHOY and MAENAD. ‘Act NONCHALANT’ was always the advice to a young man when chatting up a girl, one of the many things I never mastered. I was determined that MEDICAL was CODICIL for too long and also toyed with MADDAM. I was pleased at getting POINTILLIST even though I hit it the wrong way first putting my PIN number in the cash point machine. GOT AIRTIGHT with AMBUSH but as with an AIRTIGHT alibi I feel sure it’s not quite right. Needed all the checkers for SADDLE-SORE too. I would think that DEICIDE is at the extreme end of religious offences. Maybe the unforgiveable sin?
    1. I had a virus which affected my inner ear a few years ago. Not nice! It spread to a cranial nerve and gave me double vision too. All started after doing a tax return one Sunday evening. Stood up and found myself on the floor. Got up and found myself on the floor. Spent a lot of time crawling around! Hope she gets well soon.
      1. Mrs BW (as a Leyton girl she hates me calling her that although genealogy has revealed her great grandfather was born in Bolton. I couldn’t stop laughing for weeks after all the stick she’d given me) thanks you very much John for your good wishes. I hope you weren’t doing that tax return on January 31st.
  12. Enjoyed this one in just under 3 verlaines. Originally put in HEADS MUST ROLL until I realised that this gave some odd crossers and that MUST is in the clue. Of course, when some sort of problem hits the BBC, they say DEPUTY HEADS MUST ROLL. Thanks S and V
  13. 17 mins, with MAENAD my LOI after ANATOMY. I get the feeling I’ve seen the former pop up in puzzles reasonably regularly, but it may be that it has appeared more often in other publications. I biffed TURING MACHINE and IMPROPER during the solve but managed to unravel them both before coming here.

    Careful with those negative comments about that psycho in the White House. We’ll have a Russian site overseer pretending to be a concerned reader dropping in once more to berate us for straying from our core activity of discussing crossword puzzles …………….

    1. I got my first ever “your entry got to top-25 of the most popular entries in LiveJournal!” popup, which could just be the Russians letting me know that “we’re watching you, sunshine”…
    2. Hi! American Jo here, I am in USA thinking comments for our President not really relating with crosswords, stick with knitting as we say yes?
      1. Hello! English horryd here, I am in Shanghai thinking your President engenders rather a lot of crosswords – stick your knitting as we say!
  14. 55.30 after getting really stuck a couple of times. Stood on my head a bit with sub parsing (so to speak)- thought he was the player wanting a change so that he could get on the field, and his letters were not half but wholly changed about. Knew it couldn’t be, yet had to take the bus and couldn’t see why. There should be a word for veering doggedly about a dead end – maybe kobimentia. Thanks V. – joekobi
  15. 45 min, with about 15 min holdup in SW, having biffed MUST at 4dn – also it took a while to see 6d. 11dn a write-in without bothering to parse, as I’m a long-retired software engineer, while 20ac was remembered from previous appearance.
  16. Another HEADS MUST ROLL here, which held me up no end. Seeing as there’s a ‘must’ in the clue it was unlikely to be right…
    Also defeated by MAENAD – saw the mad, didn’t see the Ena. Nice blog.. Thanks
  17. Took up the offer of 12 weeks of the Times for £12 so have switched from the Telegraph cryptic.
    More difficult than i am used to two of the days this week but enjoyable.
    Thanks to V for parsing 9a which i wrongly guessed must be related to a soccer sub(stitute).
    Being a keen cyclist , i liked 12a as i have experienced it.
  18. Not a good week for me. Having chucked in AHOY, IMPROPER & POINTILLIST without fully parsing them, my luck ran out on 20a where I plumped for MAEVAD. Same wordplay, and since I’d never come across MAENAD it was a good a guess as any. Except that it wasn’t. 12m 28s with that error.
  19. Due to work commitments today’s was the first daily puzzle I’ve been able to have a bash at since my three-day losing streak from Friday to Tuesday. And guess what? After about 18 minutes and then another couple staring blankly at 20 I did the same as mauefw and guessed that Maevad might be a thing. Apart from that I enjoyed the tussle.

  20. Far too tricky for me today… I still had several blanks after an hour or so… Many thanks V for explaining it all.

  21. This took a while, but I got there in the end. About 45 minutes, I’d guess. Not too quick, no, but I found it tricky while solving, and less so in retrospect, which typically means it’s a very good puzzle. LOI was ANATOMY, and it wasn’t easy to remember either DEICIDE or MAENAD. I did finally parse IMPROPER, though, after a long spell. Thanks setter and V., and regards.
  22. 14:54 for me, never really finding the setter’s wavelength.

    I biffed both POINTILLIST and IMPROPER, and struggled to parse them once I’d finished. Too convoluted for my taste, I’m afraid.

  23. I’ve been struggling to get on line today as I’m en route to Fuerteventura and have been following in Verlain’s footsteps. My posts may be sparse over the next few days…..

    Edited at 2017-02-10 11:56 pm (UTC)

  24. DNF, beaten by MAENAD. If it hadn’t been an &lit I might, possibly, have got there from wordplay; as it was, I think it was impenetrable without knowing the word. On the other hand, I also failed to get MALEFACTOR which, even without the checker from MAENAD, was gettable.

    I had no problems with DEICIDE, but surely one of the perks of being a god is that you’re pretty much proof against being killed? Given the long hours and paperwork involved in being a god these days, you’d think there would be some balancing advantages.

  25. Could someone let me in on the meaning of the “&lit” code that people have been using all over today’s blog and comments? (I’m ok with ‘bifd’ and its back-formation ‘biff’, and anagrinds and DNFs, FOIs, LOIs, CODs, etc. — but this &lit is baffling me.)
    1. “And literally so”, meaning that the entire surface reading of the clue is also a definition. A MAENAD is a “woman who’s all-round crazy”.
      1. Aha! Thanks, matt. Such clues are conventionally, I think, signalled by the trailing question-mark: I have certainly found that to be the case. But then the trailing ‘?’ can also appear where there is a definition (placed at the end of the clue) which isn’t straightforward — as in 14d.
        I found this a tough puzzle, with some fiendish parses (17d) and some awkward defining (SADDLE-SORE = “affected after being carried up”? MARINADE/marinate?)
        The “busker”/’not half’ in 9a was a bit out in left-field I thought.
        But a great range of clue strategies: most enjoyable!
        1. An &lit is, very specifically, when there may appear to be no “definition part”, because the entire clue is serving double duty – as both the wordplay and the definition.

          There are also semi-&lits, where “the entire clue is the definition but only a part of the clue is the wordplay”. I’ll have to steal someone else’s examples:

          Slow-moving mice may get snapped up by them (4) – semi-&lit
          One’s cold to walk over (6) – &lit

          I don’t think a question mark is required for an &lit or semi-&lit, as they would conventionally indicate that something about the clue may be a bit of a stretch or liberty on the setters part, and indulgence is craved, but you can’t really get more cryptically perfect than an &lit! Hope that clarifies things further.

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