Times 26666

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
For some reason I had major problems with some of this and my solving time went off the scale. Having now written the blog I really can’t account for my difficulties. There are a couple obscure words and few obscure pieces of GK but there are also plenty of easy clues so I should have been able to keep my confidence level high by solving those and then concentrated on filling in the gaps rather than getting bogged down quite early in the proceedings as I did.  I completed it eventually without resorting to aids and I’ve no complaints, although I needed to look up a several things afterwards to understand them fully.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 The top military players? (5)
BRASS – Cryptic definition with reference to military bands and to the expression “top brass” meaning the higher military ranks.
4 Weaver to drink a toast (7,2)
BOTTOMS UP – BOTTOM (weaver – in A Midsummer Night’s Dream), SUP (drink). One of many odd but traditional British toasts.
9 A head’s power dissolved at a price (3,6)
PER CAPITA – P (power), anagram [dissolved] of AT A PRICE
10 Flipping idiot drinking neat poison (5)
TOXIN – NIT (idiot) reversed [flipping], containing [drinking] OX (neat – bovine animal)
11 One note rung, displaying harmony (2,4)
IN STEP – 1 (one), N (note), STEP (rung – as of ladder)
12 Spotted gardens nestling in southern plain (8)
SKEWBALD –  KEW (gardens) contained by [nestling in], S (southern) + BALD (plain). Often with reference to horses, skewbald is an irregular pattern of white and brown or red patches which I suppose at a pinch might be described as “spotted”
14 Maiden invited round for social event (6,4)
MASKED BALL – M (maiden – cricket), ASKED (invited), BALL (round)
16 Some follow assailant, backing off (4)
AWOL – Hidden [some] and reversed [backing] in {fol)LOW A{ssailant} – Absent WithOut Leave
19 On return, trains to become make-up artist? (4)
LIAR – RAIL (trains) reversed [on return]
20 Mean surrounding chap with lasso, possibly without justification (10)
IMPROPERLY – IMPLY (mean) containing [surrounding] ROPER (chap with lasso, possibly)
22 Man’s ending in jail, but strangely very happy (8)
JUBILANT – {ma}N [ending] in anagram [strangely] of JAIL BUT
23 Wall decoration fastened, but not entirely firm (6)
STUCCO – STUC{k} (fastened) [not entirely], CO (firm). I lost time here thinking “fresco”.
26 See that fleece covers part of body (5)
COLON – CON (fleece) contains [covers] LO (see that)
27 For dictator, perhaps, canes will do (9)
BAMBOOZLE – Sounds like [for dictator, perhaps] “bamboos’ll” (canes will)
28 However short, tea break is capital! (9)
BUCHAREST – BU{t} (however) [short], CHA (tea), REST [break]
29 A piece that’s just gross? (5)
NONET – In tax terminology NO NET might be equivalent to “just gross”.  The answer here is a piece of music for nine players.
1 Special balti Pam’s used for dip (9)
BAPTISMAL – Anagram [special] of BALTI PAMS
2 Hanging at murder scene staged (5)
ARRAS – This is a curtain or decorative hanging. In Shakespeare, Hamlet stabs Polonius with a sword through the arras. Nasty.
3 Long-distance travellers resort to fix that’s incomplete (8)
SPACEMEN – SPA (resort), CEMEN{t} (fix) [incomplete]
4 Army officer cut down, causing stir in navy (4)
BRIG – Abbreviation of the military rank “brigadier” and navy slang for the prison (stir) on a ship.
5 Lines in praise of some satellite TV sport? (2,1,7)
TO A SKYLARK – TO (in praise of),  A (some), SKY (satellite TV), LARK (sport). A poem by Shelley.
6 City of old to which a measure of power returns (6)
OTTAWA – O (old), A + WATT (measure of power) reversed [returns]
7 Conflict the Sun stayed out of (3,3,3)
SIX DAY WAR – Cryptic definition referring to the war between Arabs and Israelis in 1967 which started on a Monday and ended the following Saturday, so Sun(day) was not part of it.
8 Did long wooden drawer that only opens (5)
PINED – PINE (wooden), D{rawer} [only opens]
13 Offensive President, out on a limb, to be contained (10)
ABOMINABLE – Anagram of ON A LIMB contained by ABE (President). Of course no current political reference was intended in the surface reading.
15 Mob I clash with turns in disarray (9)
SHAMBOLIC – Anagram [turns] of MOB I CLASH
17 Gamble rent’s on time and put away in box? (3,2,4)
LAY TO REST – LAY (gamble), TORE (rent), S, T (time). Ho ho!
18 Vessel that’s not long transporting PM (8)
SPITTOON – SOON (not long) containing [transporting] PITT (PM). Yet another spittoon  on my watch!
21 Greek article containing nothing about Russian composer (6)
GLINKA – GK (Greek) + A (article) containing NIL (nothing) reversed [about]. Perhaps most famous for his operas  Ruslan and Lyudmila and A Life for the Tsar.
22 Fellow patient one keeps lifting roughly (5)
JACOB – JOB (patient one) contains [keeps] CA (roughly) reversed [lifting]
24 Swindle is issue for uncle to mention (5)
COZEN – sounds like [to mention] “cousin” (issue – son or daughter- for uncle). This word has come up once before on my watch 4 years ago, but I still didn’t know it.
25 Books containing note found in skip (4)
OMIT – OT (books  – Old Testament) containing MI (note – a name I call myself)

60 comments on “Times 26666”

  1. A few unparsed answers which were resolved by our esteemed blogger.

    Struggled with 22dn JACOB 11ac IN STEP (rung – doh!)
    27ac BAMBOOZLE was a bit tortuous. LOI 24dn COZEN another homophonic mention!

    FOI 1ac BRASS and SOI 2ac BOTTOMS UP – always good to get those two out of the way. And TOI 1dn BAPTISMAL

    Time – slap-on 30 minutes so one under, so far, for the week.

    COD 12ac SKEWBALD – nicely spotted.

    WOD SPITTOON – would that be PITT the elder or the younger?

  2. A DNF in 70 minutes, missing ARRAS and spelling COZEN incorrectly. Some good ones, my favourites being BAMBOOZLE and SPITTOON (yuk). Ruslan and Lyudmila Overture now turned up full blast.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  3. Odd? I’ve always assumed it meant to invert the glass, pouring the entire contents into one’s waiting mouth.
  4. I took the definition to be ‘lines in praise’, since ‘To a Skylark’ is an ode. Not that it matters much.
    1. Fair point, and I toyed with that, also with variations on cryptic and &lit but couldn’t make up my mind so I settled on accounting for each element separately in wordplay, with “to /in praise of” as in “I’ll drink to that” – an alternative to “Bottoms up”!
          1. Hang in there esrjay. It gets easier as time goes by, although in my case a bit slowly.
  5. Enjoyed this muchly, finishing with the excellent crossing pair of COZEN and BAMBOOZLE, who sound as if they might have crawled out of Dickens. Speaking of which, I just picked up a DVD of the Beeb’s Martin Chuzzlewit in an HMV fire sale and it is splendid. Fine cast too, with Paul as oriels, Tom Wilkinson and Philip Franks.

    Elapsed time 50 minutes, actual time 45 minutes, owing to a pesky urgent email arriving mid-solve.

    What is the V on? Jus 71 seconds for the Concise this morning. Disgraceful.

  6. Horrid memories of early dramatics when I played Polonius; talcum in hair … the lot. But the darned thing fell on me and I had to stay there until the end of the play trying not to breathe. The audience assumed it was deliberate.

    Otherwise … a pleasant enough puzzle.

  7. I’m sure it does*, but I still think it’s a bit odd.

    *and Brewer’s confirms

  8. 10m on the nose.
    2dn is a bit of a blast from the crosswording past: almost a straight literary knowledge test. It has a definition of course but surely ARRAS is a word you only know if you got it from Hamlet?
    I was interested by your comment on SKEWBALD, J: I didn’t know this term at all but the colour pattern you describe is what I would have called ‘pinto’. According to Wikipedia SKEWBALD is a spotty variant of that. You live and learn, and then forget again the next time it comes up.
    1. I took the definition of SKEWBALD from SOED without checking elsewhere, but having done so now I confirm that, of the usual sources, only Collins mentions “spotted”, but that’s good enough for our purposes.

      I knew ARRAS from “arras rail”, a posh name for the picture rail so popular in houses for many years along with the dado rail and skirting board.

    2. Also known from Reismarschall Hermann Goering who was an authority on Arras and Gobelin tapestries and looted several for his collection. They like his enemies, were hung on Arras rails.

      Hermann, as we know, also liked pastries.

      Edited at 2017-03-07 07:54 am (UTC)

  9. I thought this one would be a day at the races when the first two answers went straight in, but it seems to have been “harder than it looks”, various elements especially in the bottom half conspired to slow me down, and my 9 minute time is still looking pretty good on the club board. I do like these clues which assume a certain level of competence at the old literary knowledge, without ever going the full TLS hog.

    LOI 4dn, shockingly for a fan of 70s Doctor Who. I really liked the cryptic whimsy in clues like 7dn and 29ac.

  10. Like V above (goodness, not often I can write that in!), when the first two acrosses went straight in, I thought it would be another speedy solve, but no, not to be. Held up mostly in the SE, where lots went in un- (or half-) parsed (BAMBOOZLED, NONET, COZEN).

  11. 25:11 … had a bit of a nightmare with this, pencilling in wrong answers and getting the wrong end of the stick on several clues, notably the one for GLINKA.

    The southeast was definitely tricky. I’m still struggling to get my head round NONET.

    1. If it helps, Sotira, following receipt of a new notice of tax coding issued by HM Revenue and Customs for the coming year I have just been reviewing my income for the past year some of which comes from interest paid on savings. In the past, building societies and banks used to deduct tax due to the Revenue at source so that interest was paid to me “net”. But last year the system was changed so that they now pay my interest gross and the Revenue have to collect the tax due to them by other means. As a result my tax return now contains NO NET income, “just gross”.

      Edited at 2017-03-07 08:20 am (UTC)

      1. I was going to say that didn’t help at all because you appeared to be speaking a foreign language! But your last sentence got me over the line. Thank you.
    2. Did you also find yourself going through all the Greek articles? I think I was up to indefinite masculine accusative by the time I realised I was overthinking it!
  12. Almost settled for Masque Ball to make it a pangram but there is no V neither.
      1. Yup, no F, no Q, no V, as I painstakingly and pointlessly worked out while trying to get my last couple.
  13. Cracking match in Bengalaru, will Australia hit their way to victory or will they be BAMBOOZLED by the turn – and lack of bounce?
    1. Been saying for the last couple of days that I think it’s the best match I’ve ever seen. No reason to change that assessment now, despite the good guys falling just short (or so it seems at this stage).
  14. I demonstrated my lack of enthusiasm for this by typing a W where I should have had a K, destroying two answers. Nothing felt as tight or as cheerful as yesterday’s, and with two product placements for our boss’s organs on display (possibly why I spelt one of them swy) it smacked a bit of toadyism.
    Add to that the sense that our compiler was aiming for a pangram with a defective alphabet, and the fact that I, even I, didn’t get BAPTISMAL until I had almost all the checkers and you can see how dissatisfaction set in.
    Nice try, though, to get us to think Trump instead of honest ABE, and I did like “make-up artist”
  15. I found this on the easy side of the spectrum and just chugged steadily through it, as is my wont these days

    No problem with ARRAS – used to be a frequent visitor to these shores

  16. Actually was pleased with my time as I considered this a pretty tough puzzle. Then I read Sotira’s comment and realized that I had an error with the Russian composer, where I plumped for GLINRA instead of GLINKA.

    Well I’ve learned my lesson, won’t be reading any more of Sotira’s comments.

    Was lucky to get COZEN, ARRAS and SKEWBALL, so I shouldn’t complain. Thanks setter and Jack.

    1. I must admit to thinking of you when I put in the composer, and thinking it might be your Arnhem.

      On a separate track, as I was typing my comment about the Test (which I am following only on Cricinfo), two wickets fell. Seems to be my day for hexing Australians. I wonder if I can Groundhogise it somehow…

  17. Some nice touches but as Z says, not as well clued as yesterdays, overall, and some slightly dodgy surface readings.
    My equally dodgy knowledge of Shakespeare not up to 2dn but I knew Arras as a wall hanging, so bunged it in anyway
    I thought of skewbald immediately I read the clue (why?!) but dismissed it as not spotty, so it only went in when I had the k from the ode
  18. Too hard for me. A DNF stretched twenty minutes over my normal hour before finally coming here to learn that my remaining two—TO A SKYLARK and SKEWBALD—were crossing unknowns, as I’d feared.

    I should have “Kew” for “garden” in my vocabulary, but it didn’t spring to mind. Still not sure even then I’d have got the ode; I wouldn’t have thought of “lark” for “sport”, and I’ve never had Sky TV, so it wasn’t exactly looming in my mind. (Is this some subliminal advertising? Does Rupert Murdoch still own Sky as well as the Times?)

    I managed to get ARRAS and BOTTOMS UP without knowing (or possibly remembering) the Shakespearian connections, but I’m glad I could come here to get them parsed, along with the SIX DAY WAR. FOI BRASS, CsOD 18d and 27a.

    Edited at 2017-03-07 09:50 am (UTC)

  19. Was privileged to see David Tennant at Stratford and the ARRAS, and then with another Shakespeare reference with BOTTOM, made a good start. COD 5d, but it’s one of those where the enumeration makes it easy. LOI JACOB, kept trying to fit in JACK for ‘lifting’. Thanks jack and setter, 20′.
  20. Slow going, though one of those puzzles where I never felt truly stumped at any point. Interesting that most people seem to know ARRAS from Hamlet whereas I know it from the self-flagellating Borachio in Much Ado About Nothing: “I whipped me behind the arras…”. Needless to say I didn’t get the cryptic for it.
  21. 55 minutes again, with GLINKA LOI on a prayer. I was BAMBOOZLED and COZENED at the same time, if that’s linguistically possible, down in the south-east, not helped by first biffing FRESCO rather than STUCCO. And that’s while only noticing Elvis’s Stuck on You in an advert during the football on SKYLARK last night. I saw NONET early thankfully. Skewbald also came from a song hitting me too. I don’t know if STEWBALL was a corruption. COD TO A SKYLARK, although I ran through all the Keats I knew before reaching Percy Bysshe. Good puzzle.
  22. an abundance (there’s another)of the letter – is 8 in one puzzle a record?

    John Mac

  23. I was bamboozled by COZEN, entering CUZEN after dismissing CUZIN, which I later discovered in the urban dictionary is text speak for cousin. FOI, BRASS went in at first sight, with ARRAS bringing up the rear, just after my incorrect CUZEN. There were some tricky clues here and I was happy to manage the rest of them unscathed. I came in at 45:07, with a 2 minute interruption during my cogitations on ARRAS, for a phone call from Royal Mail Identity Services apologising for the problem with their website which prevents me seeing my profile. Apparently it’s due to a software problem which will be fixed in a few weeks when they roll out a new version. I suppose it’s fairly secure if you can’t even see your own profile! ARRAS was an educated guess from the dusty depths of memory jogged by the “staged” bit of the clue. I surprised myself by knowing the ode, as I have never been much of a literary bod. I liked LAY TO REST which elicited a ghoulish chortle. A challenging puzzle. Thanks setter and Jack.

    Edited at 2017-03-07 12:55 pm (UTC)

  24. 25 with 1 wrong glinra. Ref Keriothe’s comment Horse colouring and patterns is I have discovered an arcane subject. I recently asked my very horsey sister re roans,bays etc, after 10 minutes even more confused. The only plus was hearing that there is a breed called Norwegian Fjord…surely a setters dream to clue.
  25. I enjoyed this one – the top went in at a canter, but the bottom took quite a bit of time to tease out, in retrospect I’ve no idea why. Was fixated on “Mayflower” for 18dn, in spite of the wrong number of letters and being totally impossible to parse. Also struggled to fit anagram of “lariat” into 20ac, until crossers ruled it out. Hey ho!
    It was good to have the two Shakespearean references, a salute to the old, happy days when completing an obscure quote was often required, which so often took me down the rabbit hole of the Complete Works – a casualty of the internet, alas.
    FOI Brass, LOI Nonet, COD Spittoon, simply for its mental juxtaposition with prime ministers.
  26. No problems, 15 minutes, enjoyable, Liked BAMBOOS’LL. Had mis spelled the city OTTOWA until worked out how the WATT worked into it.
  27. 2 wrong, an excusable CUZEN (if you don’t know the word there are a few plausible variants) and the less excusable ELINTA, where I somehow equated “article” with “character” and put ETA around NIL.
    1. That’s exactly what I was doing for ages. In the end I decided there probably wasn’t a Mr Elinta, but it was a close thing.
  28. An enjoyable 27 minutes – so average time for me. BRASS, MASKED BALL, GLINKA and NONET made this quite a musical offering. Glinka’s overture to “Ruslan & Ludmilla” has a special place in my memory. I was learning to play the double-bass in 1955 and as an absolute beginner was faced with my first “proper” piece in the county youth orchestra. Glinka’s R&L got me off to a flying start since the 1st 7 notes on the bass are on open strings. After that, of course, it all went pear-shaped. But I never forgot the thrill of being part of the ensemble for the first 7 notes…
    1. I think Ruslan & Ludmilla is the reason I got GLINKA, too. I think it was on one of those (presumably terribly frowned-up) cassette collections of classical overtures that I owned, very randomly, as a teenager. I have vague memories of the 1812, Night on a Bare Mountain and William Tell, all on the same tape.
      1. I had tapes of famous overtures and opera choruses. I think they called them “lollipops” – a quick taste of something lovely. These days we have Classic FM if we need a quick fix.
          1. Thanks to the joys of the internet, I actually tracked down the tape. I think I was conflating two cassettes in my memory, but the Glinka one was an EMI “Miles of Music” tape called “1812 and other Russian ‘Pops'”.

            Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka and, of course, Mussorgsky’s A Night on the Bare Mountain, or as it was exclusively known in the 1980s, “that cool music from the Maxell ads“.

            Edited at 2017-03-09 11:27 am (UTC)

  29. To the above other than my disappointment to not know Arras. Stuck for a while in SE until a moment of inpiration gave me Bamboozle (COD) and then the rest fell. Never heard of Cozen but by then I was on some form of wavelength. Onwards and upwards until Friday.
  30. DNK 21dn GLINKA so that’s been filed away for future reference. I’ll also have to give him a listen, courtesy of Spotify (what a terrific resource that is for only a tenner a month – advert-free naturellement). Upon coming here I then discovered that I’d also parsed 14ac incorrectly as MISSED BALL. So a DNF although I came close in not much more than 45 minutes.
  31. Alas, two wrong after thirty-six minutes. I had “arris” instead of ARRAS. It turns that “arris” is a thing, but the wrong sort of thing. And at 21d I plumped for the obscure Russian composer “Elinta*”, after deciding with a shrug that the “Greek article” was all of one piece and could only be eta.

    *I refer, of course, to Andrei Valentin Gregor Elinta, ?1877-1954, famous for classical interpretations of Russian folk music and Ukrainian peasant songs, as well as for introducing the bandura to a wider audience than hitherto, or indeed since. He is not widely known, in part because of course he never actually existed.

  32. This is clearly one of those days when I can’t get anything wright. I forgot to log in when I made that comment up there ^ . On the whole, I think I might just do Tuesday over again.
  33. Well I actually did finish, but with an incorrect, joining penfold et al with ELINTA. Obviously, I’m unfamiliar with Mr. GLINKA. He’s not famous enough to have pierced my deflector shields against Russian composer knowledge. Not to mention my expanded list of articles, whereby ETA snuck in without being an article in either language. Got ARRAS from ‘hanging’ alone, not piecing together the Hamlet reference. About 30 minutes to get that far. Regards.
  34. Fortunately knew GLINKA, but was a hit and hope with COZEN, couldn’t remember if it ended in -IN or -EN and a homophone clue is no help. Rest was pretty breezy.
  35. As usual with harder puzzles, I stopped after about 50 minutes with three clues unsolved and came back later to mess those up. Well, actually, I only messed one up; TO A SKYLARK and then SKEWBALD actually went in correctly, the first K in SKYLARK assuring me that the gardens really were KEW. For a time I thought “lines in praise” might even be TOAST (so TO A ST?L?R?), but I couldn’t fill in the blanks. And the Russian composer certainly wasn’t ELINTA (but unfortunately also not GLINKA); his correct name was ELINNA and ENA really IS a Greek article. I could never have parsed the clue the way it was intended (Gk = Greek? Unfortunately, it is in Chambers and Collins, as I see).
  36. 11:02 for this most enjoyable puzzle. Sadly I flagged towards the end and made far heavier work of the SE corner than I would have once.

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